Monday, December 25, 2006

The Mourning After - Lana

Lana's (since Lana last posted, she did put up a blog, but since she refuses to post anything there, I refuse to link it - all's fair in blogs and writing) second effort and, once again, she's off the beaten track. Thus one is more Frum Jewish Woman-centric but we don't discriminate here. Enjoy:

The Mourning After

I sat down in a chair in the salon, in a little corner that had been curtained off for me so no male passers-by would see my hair. The stylist was very accommodating, though no doubt she thought the practices of orthodox Judaism odd.

I removed the scarf that covered my head and my hair tumbled out, gasping for breath, forgetful of the freedom it had enjoyed just last night.

It was thick and long, and smelled of all the chemicals the stylist had used yesterday afternoon to get my normally straight hair into tight and twisted curls. I had wanted to look stunning on my wedding night, and I had. David was speechless and I was beautiful, my ebony tresses twirling with every slight movement of my head, caressing my face and flying behind me as I danced and celebrated the occasion with friends and family.

But that was last night, and this was today. It was time. Long hair is impractical when it has to be covered completely. I’ve seen women who try it, pulling their hair into a bun at the back of their heads and pinning it down with all their might, but it never helps. A big, telltale bump always ends up protruding from the back of their heads, hairs poking out from underneath the scarves in a frumpy mess. And I was not going to be a frumpy mess.

The stylist washed my hair twice, digging her nails into my scalp to rid my hair of all its gooey residue. She could tell that I was nervous. She asked if I wanted to go through with it and I said I do.

Snip, snip. Snip, snip. I felt, more than saw my hair falling to the floor. My mind drifted back to the time of my first haircut. I was seven. My mother had let my hair grow long because she thought little girls ought to look like girls. But a family vacation in Israel had resulted in a family of lice taking up residence on my scalp. A haircut was the only solution. It was only supposed to be a few inches, just to make it manageable. But a few inches did not translate well into Hebrew, and I emerged from the salon with a devastating bob. My crying didn’t stop until my mother made it up to me with two new Barbie dolls.

Snip, snip. Snip, snip. The sound of the machete-like scissors chop-chopping away brought me back to the present. Another strand fell to the floor. I bit my lip. My thoughts turned to David. I was so lucky to have him. I remembered the first compliment he ever gave me. It was our third date and he had smiled shyly and said, “I like your hair.”

Would he smile at me that same way when I returned?

Snip, snip. Snip, snip. Shorn of my womanhood, eight inches of hair upon the floor. It looked surreal, lying lifeless against the cold white tiles, the same way it had lain against my white wedding dress, so vibrant and alive.

The ordeal had taken about ten minutes, but it seemed an eternity. I told the stylist that there was no need to blow dry, it would be covered right way. Tears welled in my eyes as I said this, and I was seven again.

But I couldn’t act like a child. I was an adult, a woman, a wife. I set my jaw and avoided looking in the mirror. I tossed the scarf over my head and tied the knot tightly. My fingers reached to the back of my head and there was no bump. As I left the salon to return to my eagerly awaiting husband, I couldn’t help but feel a terrible ingrate for the tears I shed mourning my lost, luscious hair.


Blogger bellanny said...

Loved it! I used to have really long hair, but I cut it 2 years ago in an act of defiance and independence. Sometimes change is good if you work up to it and don't go too short.

7:37 PM  
Blogger David_on_the_Lake said...

Great the way it moves...although its hard for me to relate to the story line..

7:24 AM  
Blogger Elster said...

Well truth be told, my hair is longer than usual and I've grown to like it. I'm getting a haircut next week and I will sure miss the little guys. But the good news (especially for women) is that hair grows back.

10:10 AM  
Blogger Lana said...

true, it's only hair. in this story though, i (like to) think it's also a symbol- about how you can do something that you think is right (any sort of halacha or ideal) and still feel bad about it.

5:24 AM  
Blogger Sheyna Galyan said...

Wow... I've been there. I had my (very) long hair cut for a different reason, but that sense of loss, of a part of me being cut and tossed away like so much garbage, was devastating. And worse when you feel like you must but you don't really want to.

I really want to know what the husband thought. Was he angry? Sad? Did he understand? Had he been looking forward to being the only one who could run his hands through those long locks?

I'm on the verge of tears, having read this. Makes me think maybe I should write that post on why I decided to cover my hair - and then why I decided to stop.

Sniff. Good story.

9:59 PM  

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