family life, women

My hair is long

It’s also rather wild at times. If the day were humid, my hair were freshly air dried and I could somehow rustle up a great deal of black leather I could slip into a 1980s tribute band without being noticed.

This big-hair-don’t-care thing all started in late 2021. I was momming a household that included a husband, two teenaged daughters, my 90-something mother and an elderly dog. One day, I caught a long-distance view of myself in a mirror. My bobbed curls had devolved into a mop. Not a fancy mop, like a Swiffer. An old-school mop that requires a wringer.

“I’m not doing well,” I told my husband not long after. “What do you want me to do?” he, being a guy, asked. “There isn’t anything to do. I just need someone to know,” I answered. Then, for some inexplicable reason that I now suspect was God nudging me toward a new season of life, I started growing out my hair.

I grew it through the idyllic holiday season that mercifully followed this hitting of a caregiving wall. I grew it through the sudden, nearly tandem deaths of our dog and my mother. I grew it through the training of the wildest-but-cuddliest puppy I’ve ever experienced. I grew it through the production of an entire book and a hundred some newspaper articles. I grew it through one daughter’s college launch, the other’s licensing as a driver and the instant emptying and quieting of a household that had been bubbling on all four burners for so long I couldn’t remember any other way to live.

Pulled straight, my hair now reaches several inches past my shoulders. And, in spite of being low maintenance when it comes to most things cosmetic – all this hair is my natural color and texture and what the French call le no makeup look is my go to – I’m loving it.

Loving it in a teenaged girl way. I spend inordinate amounts of time sculpting it into various shapes while standing in front of the bathroom mirror. You can do this kind of thing with curly hair. I have a wide-tooth comb made from sandalwood. I have a basket of clips and barrettes. I have a tub of curl-enhancing smoothie. I use them all.

How long will I go? I don’t know. Hair is such a loaded thing. People use it to express, deny, identify, discriminate. Hair can be about gender, race, region, religion, politics, age, social class.

Two cases in point: My double-great Aunt Josie, who was born around 1890, lived until the age of 104 without ever cutting her hair. Not even once. I have no idea how long it actually was, but it was worn wrapped around her head in tidy, white braids held in place with a multitude of tiny black combs. It wasn’t a style choice. It was a Victorian woman’s tribute to her beloved Horace, the late husband who held her hair in high regard.

A contrasting story: When I was in my 20s and sporting a chin-length bob, I was stunned speechless when a fellow journalist made an observation that might make it surprising that he lived on to later serve as a foreign correspondent. “You have CEO hair,” he commented to me before gesturing toward two secretaries working nearby. “They have office-help hair.”

Any woman can guess what happened. Within a week, the two secretaries had neatly cropped hair. Within months, mine was past my shoulders. By the time of my wedding the following summer, it was long enough to wear in a Gibson-girl type of up-do. I thought that was the last time I would grow it out. It wasn’t. After another foray into CEO bobs, I wore it long again until we had children and something simpler seemed better.

That was absolutely the last, last time I would have long hair, I thought. At nearly 40, I was already too old for long hair. Again, I was wrong. I’m OK with this. As the mother of teen girls, I’m used to being wrong.

So – while I’m not trying to make any point of any kind – I’m suddenly thankful that I have hair to grow long and wild and fun. Who knows? Maybe I will someday have white braids coiled about my head. Maybe I will go back to a curly bob and do it better this time. Maybe I will go all CEO again. Maybe I’ll do something I haven’t yet considered — just not a mullet or mohawk.

I suddenly have time to ponder such things in this brave, new season.

What about you, dear readers? Any hair stories to share…

25 thoughts on “My hair is long”

  1. I wish I had a nickel for every hair story I have. Thick, unruly, each follicle a mind of its own. My mother wearied of trying to help me brush it when I was around 5. I remember one Sunday getting ready for church. So many cowlicks I just cut them out. So I was given a ‘pixie’ cut to hide the damage.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Good story, Nora. Amusing also. I always got perms. One time my daughter made an appt at a different salon. I quit the perms, and have been wearing my hair the way they styled it ever since!

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  3. Nora, I’m trying not to have hair envy in that you can wear it long, short, sculpted, crazy etc. Mine is fine and straight and can only be worn one length. The only variety it offers is that it that now in my 40’s it comes naturally in a mixture of silver, blond, light brown, dark brown and copper. So here’s a hair story you might enjoy. My Nana (who lived to 103) was plain Brethren and wore a prayer covering from her teenage years to death. She never wore make-up, jewelry, or pants. As she got older her hair thinned more and more but her prayer covering always held an abundant bun. When I got older, my Dad finally let me in on her hair secret. Nana would meticulously collect the fine hairs from her brush and when she had enough she’d braid them, place the looped braid in her prayer covering so it appeared she had more hair then was actually on her head. I have to admit I was tickled to learn my Nana had a slight vain streak. I told my Dad if I my hair begins to thin like hers I might just adopt her technique.

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    1. I love the idea of your multi-colored look! Mine’s dishwater blonde with single white hairs scattered throughout. Oddly, it kind of looks like I’ve glittered it in certain light. But, your nana’s bun story is precious. Smart woman!

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  4. Such a cute and funny story.
    As for me, I wore a bobb for a very long time. About a month ago I decided I’m going pixie. Lol

    So easy to care for and cute. I love it. As for make up, girl I never leave the house without it. I’d probably scare somebody. Lol

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  5. I just told my hair story. It’s silver/white now, and I love it! In October, a young friend first saw it and exclaimed,”Ohmygosh! I love it! You look like a fairy!” I went home and googled Lord of the Rings costumes for Halloween. 😆

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  6. Ah Nora,
    I so identify with this post and have even got a draft post ‘my hair journey’. Thanks for the reminder though about growing out dyed hair & returning to hair’s natural colour which I did at quite a significant point in my life.
    Condolences about mum and your dog.

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  7. Hi Nora! Kept your post and finally just read it! Last time I had shoulder length hair was about 2010-2016, kind of neat, but I looked like Beethoven. Now it is super short, and when I want to have fun with it I spike. Two friends of mine are now totally into wigs. One keeps trying wigs of all colors, including blue, purple, etc. The other one, who totally adores her long blond faux locks keeps insisting I try one. Even offered to get me one for Christmas. Says in a Minnesota winter it keeps your neck warm.
    I refuse. Totally. You can’t get me to go down that road. “I don’t like green eggs and ham”. But who knows, someday I may cave in…

    Liked by 1 person

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