I am about to cut my hair.
It’s a long story, but I’ll try to keep it short.
First: Why is it a big deal?
Well, ’cause I prefer long hair. However, I am not good at looking after my hair, I have died it a lot since I was 15, I have a small face and a large body (although I’m working on the latter), so my hair is rough and tough and long hair does not suit me. It falls flat and straight around my small face and then hunches around and is just basically a nuisance. Whenever I see it reflected in a shop window or in the bathroom mirror at night or first thing in the morning though, I love it. I just don’t love the face that goes with it.
But there is more.
My hair was always the symbol of me. Unruly, anarchic hair. When finally convinced by the few female friends I had in my life to go to the hairdresser’s, the result
was always even worse than before I went. I always, always regretted it, except once, when my hair was done in a kind of dark blonde bun with strips of golden, red and
brown: it looked awesome. Italian hairdressers, I’m sorry to say, have far more style when dealing with colour. A multicoloured Italian hairdresser’s hair is nothing, and I mean nothing like English hairdresser’s multicoloured hair. Anyhoo.
There is more.
Cutting my hair reminds me of my first suicide attempt. I was in University in London and my best friend was studying in Geneva and had psychologically deserted me (I
later found out she thought I had slept with my other close friend, her boyfriend at the time. Not true of course, she was just an idiot). My other close friend lived
with a girlfriend who hated me despite never having met me and another close friend was living with a woman who would become a good friend, they were in love and happy and living in their own flat, where the year before I was living with him (but not sleeping with him). I was living in squallid Halls of Residence and felt very lonely, though was never alone: I was cute, and hot, and always had men around who wanted to sleep with me, and on that occasion I had a couple I was rotating, one an incredibly geeky and intelligent Irishman and the other a beach blonde Sagittarius with not much brain. My hair represented my sensuality. I hated my sensuality, so I started to chop off my hair. With music.
Music can be extremely dangerous. It takes a while to understand that yes you are attrcated to a certain type of music when dipping in and out of dark places, and very often that is exactly the type of music you should avoid. At the time, it was the soundtrack to Betty Blue. How idiotic of me in hindsight, but at the time I didnt even notice, it was just part of the music I had on all the time.
So I started chipping off my hair. It felt good I chopped more and more off until all the hair was gone. It looked awful, and I loved it. I remembered I had sleeping
pills. People taking sleeping pills should really consider what is wrong in their lives that stops them from sleeping well, before taking sleeping pills. I didn’t, and
neither did whoever had given them to me. I took them all, and felt happy, and a little crazy. As I waited for them to have effect, I finished off all the hair I could
find, then began with my eyebrows. That was because I was trying to figure out how to take the blade out of a razor, got bored with that so shaved the eyebrows
instead. I looked like shit, but I felt happy, and lay down. It felt right. I started to feel very sleepy and at the same time increasingly queasy. The sleepiness
however was overcoming the queasyiness so I let myself sink into it.
I was awoken by loud banging on the door. I deeply resented whoever it was and felt way too sick to get up so I just stayed a little hoping he would just go away. He
started to call my name and didn’t stop banging on the door. I realised who it was, it was the surfer guy, the blonde Sagittarius with little brain. I thought “but I
look like shit” and realised I finally, finally didn’t care that I did. So I dragged myself up and opened the door. He was all over me and opened the windows and made
me throw up and I felt like shit. I don’t know how long he stayed after that. He was brave, for a guy with little brain: he stayed with me long enough to know I was
safe, and then left, and then I never saw him again. Of course quite rightly he freaked out plus I was certainly not hot anymore so he left me alone.
The rest doesn’t matter. Counsellors, my friends, the rest of my life, how it continued. What matters is that my hair and my face never looked so ugly. I have pictures
of me that summer, trying to hide under hats (the eighties had gone, the nineties had arrived, hates weren’t really fashionable anymore unless you were a hipster which
I never, never was). No, that’s not what matters. What really matters is that every time I cut my hair, and I often do because as I said earlier hairdressers and I
just don’t get on, there is always, always that little voice creping up, the little voice that says “maybe just a little more?” grinning like a devil. Fortunately another voice started to take over once my boys arrived, and that was “remember to stop. Remember to stop”. So I do.
I make a mess of my hair, despite doing it a lifetime I never really learnt to cut it. People always tell me what the hell have you done to your hair this time Val? And I always smile and say I don’t care or laugh sheepishly and say “I know, I know, I’ll go to a hairdresser next time”. Twenty-five years the same story, the same tale, the same farce with my friends. But actually, what I’m feeling is happy because I stopped. What I’m thinking is “nah, I did well, I stopped”. And I smile a real smile despite my horrendous loooking haircut.