I am so annoyed. My father and I are fighting about my hair…again. He doesn’t want me to get a haircut. Ever. I would like to trim an inch or two off the bottom every once in a while (just to keep it looking healthy and manageable and neat).
So far, he has won every battle. I haven’t had a haircut since my mother died. But I am not about to give up the fight. At this point, my hair is so long that I am sitting on it all the time! It is driving me crazy.
When I was little, I had dark, shoulder-length hair and bangs. But, my beautiful older cousin had bang-less, waist-length blonde hair and big angelic blue eyes. And, my mother adored my cousin (and her long hair). So, she decided to grow my bangs out, and my hair long.
Soon, my bangs were long. But, unfortunately, they weren’t long enough to stay out of my face. It was really, really annoying. I would sit at my kindergarten desk, trying to work on various kindergarten activities, but my overgrown bangs kept getting in the way. They hung in my eyes, making them itch, and blurring my view. So, one day, I took my dull little left-handed kindergarten scissors, and I chopped off the bangs that my poor mother had been trying to grow out for so many months.
I was in Heaven! My hair was no longer in my face, and I could look down and see the papers on my desk without having to brush strands of hair out of my eyes every two seconds.
Within minutes, I completely forgot what I’d done to my hair. And I didn’t think about it again until I arrived home and my mother got a look at the mini crew cut that was now in the place my bangs had been when she’d brushed my hair into a ponytail that morning before I’d left for school.
As you can imagine, she was not at all pleased with my new hairstyle. In fact, to say that she was distraught would be an understatement. She was completely wigged out, and she wanted answers. So…I lied to her. And (believe me, I am ashamed to have to admit this), it wasn’t a little lie either. It was a big one. And I continued to lie to her until I couldn’t lie anymore – until I had no other choice but to tell her the truth (“the whole truth and nothing but the truth”).
The shame and embarrassment that I felt as I watched my lie unravel at my feet all those years ago still burns in my gut, where it waits for my memory to reignite it every now and then so that it can rage inside me (to remind me of my weaknesses, I suppose). It’s raging right now, and it feels dreadful.
It’s such an awful sensation, having to remember (and acknowledge) how horribly I sometimes behave.
In fact, I am more than a little bit tempted to cross this section out and start my weekly journal assignment all over again.
I’d like nothing more than to be able to erase this part of who I am from the record forever. But, I won’t. Because crossing it out wouldn’t mean that it didn’t happen. It would just make this journal a fiction, which would make it of no use to me.
The whole point of this assignment – for me, at least – is to figure out how to accept the reality of my past so that I can stop obsessing over it in the present. And that means the reality of my whole past, not just some fairytale version.
Still, I cringe when I think about how disappointed my mother must have been in my behavior that day.
What did I do? Well, first I played dumb. You know, I acted as if I didn’t have any idea what she was talking about. But, of course, my mother was not about to let the subject drop. She wanted a more satisfactory answer; one that made some sense. So, eventually, after much prodding and pleading, I told her that a boy in my class had done it – the class bully, actually. I made up this whole elaborate story about how he and held me down and forced me to let him cut my hair despite my desperate protestations that he stop.
I didn’t confess the truth until my mother announced that she was going to call my kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Levin, and “get to the bottom of this.” As she brought the phone to her ear, I finally broke down and told her what I had done.
Once everything had been worked out (my mother had heard the truth, and we had established the fact that I had done a really stupid thing), my mother set about trying to figure out a way to cover up the mess I’d made of my bangs. She came up with a hairstyle that involved parting my hair way down the side of my scalp, sweeping the longer hair over my ridiculous looking “barely there” bangs, and securing the swept-over hair with a barrette.
My punishment? I had to go through the whole process of growing out my bangs (and having them hang in my face and drive me crazy) all over again.
And, they did grow out…eventually. And my hair grew down to my waist. And my mother died. And my father, caught up in the “routine” – my mother wanted me to have long hair so, goshdarnit, I am going to have long hair – refuses to let me get a haircut.
My hair just grows and grows and, along with being motherless, has come to define me. I am Sophie Green, the short girl with the really long hair and the dead mother.
Well, I can’t help that I am short (as much as I would like to be taller). And I can’t help that I am motherless (unfortunately). But, I can cut my hair. (“Yes, you can, but, no, you may not,” my father likes to say whenever we fight about my hair these days. Isn’t he funny? Not!)