You may have noticed that I'm just slightly obsessive around turning gray, yet not wanting to dye my hair. This was exacerbated when several folks in Hawaii last month exclaimed about the gray/white streak running down the right side of my head. That's what happens when you don't see your friends for 5 years.
I took a closer look in the mirror and noticed that indeed, the gray streak that runs from just below my temple to my ear is quite noticeable. Flipping my hair around, I noticed that there's virtually no similar streak on the left side of my head.
After 23 years of wearing my hair parted on the right (I changed my part in graduate school when I realized my hair waved better that way), I combed my hair over to part it on the left.
"There's a big bump on top of your head," said my kids.
I wore it that way for a day and a half, and then felt so silly I had to change my part back letting the white streak declare itself again.
Soon after returning, I went to my hairdresser, my very expensive Chinese-American hair-dresser who is one of 3 persons in this world who has ever given me a terrific haircut. (All 3 were Asian, all 3 were astoundingly expensive, but all 3 knew what they were doing.)
Fourteen years ago, when we had no money because Scott was in B-school and I was supporting the family on an InterVarsity salary with a baby and no childcare, I had a very bad hair life. My sister suggested I call this expensive salon on Newbury St. (the chic expensive store street in Boston) and ask for a good hairdresser. Scott, always supportive of my attempts to tame my hair even with no expendable income, said I should go for it.
"I have extremely difficult Asian hair--do you have anyone who can cut it?" I asked the receptionist.
"I think Kwan would be a great choice."
"But I have EXTREMELY difficult Asian hair--no one knows how to deal with it--are you sure she's the best one?"
"Kwan is very good, I think you'll be happy with her,"
Kwan, indeed, is very good. So good I've followed her through 3 salons and been committed to her for going on 15 years. I scheduled my hair appointments around her pregnancies, and when she gave birth 3 weeks early so I couldn't see her, I ended up looking like a mushroom.
So as I sat in Kwan's chair, I told her about my comb-over and how bad it looked. Sure enough, like I guessed, she cuts my hair according to my part, a reason it didn't work.
She flipped my hair back and forth, examined me closely, and said she was willing to try the comb-over, saying that she wouldn't do it if she didn't think it would eventually look OK.
So we went for it.
Meanwhile, I could tell she just doesn't get why I go to such measures when I could just dye my hair and not worry about it at all. "It takes at least 5 years off," she said.
But that's part of the problem--I feel like a lesser human that I can't reconcile feeling OK about being the age I am. . . and looking it. And therefore I'm trying to get my emotions to grow up along with my hair.
When I walked out the door and met my kids who'd I sent wandering Newbury even though they couldn't afford a thing on the street, I asked them what they thought of my official new comb-over.
"There's still a big bump on your head," said my son.
Oh well. . .