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4:37 p.m. - 2012-07-26
In and On My Head.

I haven't said anything about my hair in a while, but something Paula spoke about gave me a little mental nudge.

The mop continues to get longer. It's now longer and shaggier than it's been in 15 years. Not long after Wolf was born I finished the crop job I'd started during my pregnancy. When I was expecting I had my mid-back-length Barbie hair shorn into a long-ish pageboy thinking a shorter 'do would be more efficient. Then the first solo trip I took after Wolf was born was to the salon. And that was the first of the uber-crops. Wolf was only a few weeks old but I could already see this new son of mine would leave me NO time to fuss with my hair at all. Not when I still had everything else to do too, which was basically being in charge of EVERYTHING. Mike had gotten fired again and instead of finding a new job he'd decided to start his own business. Stunned and reeling from the wreck of my bod (pregnancy in your mid-30s and C-sections are a bitch) and the shelving of my own glib plans to go back to work right away as I had with Alex, suddenly I had a nursing infant, a sullen horribly jealous teenager, and a complete nincompoop of a husband who was never home except to make a mess, deposit a couple loads of greasy filthy laundry, hand me a sheaf of handwritten invoices to type up and mail, and hit me up with a demand to be fed luxe meals which included huge hunks of beef- food I bought with our non-existent money and shopped for and cooked during my non-existent free time. All this while completely swamped with a whopping case of post-partum depression that lasted four and a half years.

My hairdresser, Zee, saved my sanity and quite possibly my life. The hour I spent in her calming, soothing, always welcoming presence every 8 weeks or so was a miracle. Greeting me with a hug and a cup of coffee or a glass of wine, Zee would gently coax me to the sink and spend a good 10 minutes washing and conditioning my hair. To be touched with such care, such kindness! So very different from the ever hungry baby gnawing on my breasts and the constant foot-stompings, high speed collisions, fingers slammed in cabinet doors, head butts, and body slams dealt me by Mike and Alex. Zee's gentle ministrations at the sink always made me cry, something she nicely ignored after the first time when I'd explained to her that far from hurting me I'd gotten leaky from the relief and comfort of it all.

Then in the chair she'd snip and comb and snip some more, listening if I wanted to vent, but mostly I used that time with her to laugh. God knows I needed to laugh. I'd kid around and get her going, gassing over long-standing jokes and riffing on the people we had in common and local news, sometimes getting her laughing so hard she'd have to put her scissors down and wipe her eyes. With Zee I remembered myself. The LA who was amusing and sharp. I could put aside the grim weary minder, mender, caretaker and all around dog's body I'd allowed myself to become at home and be that funny chick with the bright mind and zingy tongue I'd been once upon a time. Eventually my hair would be finished. Clipped, blown dry with sweet-smelling products. My neck would be powdered and brushed clean of itchy little hairs. I'd put my glasses back on and admire Zee's handiwork and catch one last glimpse of LA the person who belonged only to herself and then it'd be time to go. And Zee? Zee who somehow knew how it was with me would charge some ridiculously low amount and refuse a tip. Enough so I wouldn't feel like a total charity case, but I knew it was always far below what her true going rate was. She was just that generous and kind. With one last hug I'd thank her and get out the door with a quip that would leave her laughing.

Zee's down in Florida now enjoying a well-earned semi-retirement, working a couple days a week at a nearby salon to keep her hand in, but mostly she works on her golf game, her fishing skills and her tan. She loathes the internet so our communication is a yearly exchange of Christmas cards and a once in a while message passed on through her elder son who still lives local and I see him now and again in the stores.

I have tried to tell her how much her friendship did for me all those years, but like a lot of truly good people she's impatient with praise and shy about accepting compliments. So I'm writing about her here. Some of you longtime readers might remember Zee from the olden days and even if you don't do me a huge and spend a moment sending a kind thought out toward my friend down in Florida. Thanks.

So. Back to my hair as it is right now. The march of the silver continues apace. So far except for on a very cool thick streak at my right temple the silver is evenly sprinkled throughout, little twinkly glitters in my still mostly turd brown mop.

I still haven't decided what the heck I want to do with my hair so I'm leaving it be and just letting it grow. 98% of the time I have it scraped back off my face with an Alice band. Which is stupidly the exact opposite of what I was going for when I started letting it grow out in the first place. I wanted hair that would do something to balance off this ballooning, double-chinned, jowly wreck which used to be my face. But I can't stand it hanging in my eyes all the time either. So. Twixt and 'tween. Pretty much like everything else about me these days. Too old to be young, too young to be really old. Too fat for most of my clothes, not fat enough for circus freak status. Wondering if my elder son has made me a grandmother, yet still raising a child of my own. A newlywed who's been married since birth.

It's weird but when I think about how I'm floundering around right now I can't help but think about Diane Keaton who went through a truly strange period in her early 50s where she wore turtlenecks up over her chin like Mort from the Bazooka Joe comics. She often wore gloves and big droopy hats too. It was like she couldn't figure out how to be herself anymore and was in hiding. I honestly got the feeling she wasn't hiding from public scrutiny so much as she was aware she was in a transition state and had wrapped herself in a cocoon. She was trying to make a safe place while she was vulnerable. My own projection, perhaps, but after almost a decade of swaddling she emerged with a flurry of acting roles, interviews and damn if she hadn't scored a gig touting moisturizers and make-up for L'Oreal. So I have hope that when I'm through this odd "Who the hell am I?" phase I'll come back out too. With a renewed sense of self and style and purpose.

At the very least I might have figured out what the heck to do with my hair.

Much love, ~LA

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