1. I was 9, and my dirty blonde wisps just barely grazed the top of my collarbones. I was so excited. My hair had never been long, and this length meant it was well on it’s way.
I was 9, when my mom took me to her hairdresser and insisted on getting all of the dead ends cut off. He cut. I cried. My collarbones were cold, and I made my mom promise she would never take me back there.
2. In fourth and fifth grade my hair was just below my shoulders, but only because I straightened it every morning, so it gained an extra half inch. The hair on my legs could rival the length of the hair on my head because the only razor I was familiar with was the Motorola Razor phone I had just gotten for my birthday.
In the Spring of fifth grade, my brother caught a glimpse of my legs while we were in the car and called me a Woolly Mammoth. I shaved my legs bare that night and made sure that the only hair I would have on my body from here on out was the hair that fell from my head.
3. In Seventh grade I thought side bangs looked cool. Enough said.
4. 8th grade was the year for maturing, I thought. I was at the top of the pyramid in middle school, preparing to step into the years of first dates, first drinks, and first cars. I thought, what better way to get ready for high school than to dye my hair for the first time? My dirty blonde elementary school strands had thickened and become a dull light brown. I didn’t want to be dull.
I went back to the hairdresser that I had written off when I was 9 and he made me chocolate brown. I looked mature, I thought. Chocolate brown was mature.
5. At the beginning of 9th grade, I dyed my hair Ombre. I was really into Pinterest at the time.
6. Towards the end of 9th grade I got my permit. I was cool for that. I started wearing my hair up in a top-knot-bun, and I remember letting it free, allowing it to fall and frame my face for my permit picture.
I remember walking to my grandmas house and asking to borrow her car to get coffee with my girl friends. I had my permit now, and even though I still couldn’t drive without someone over the age of 21, I was cool, so I did. I drank coffee, and I was cool for that, too. I remember going through the Dunkin’ Donuts drive thru and ordering an Iced French Vanilla Latte with cream and no sugar. It was Fall; but Fall in Florida meant tank tops and Ugg boots, so iced coffee was still appropriate. I remember texting my hair dresser and saying that I wanted to go Auburn red for Fall. I scheduled an appointment for two days later.
My hair was red and I couldn’t wait to post a selfie of it to Instagram. I remember captioning it, “look at this stuff, isn’t it neat” followed by every red emoji that I could find.
After 3 washes, it faded to a poop green color.
6. My sophomore year was the year of firsts that I had prepared for in middle school. I made out with a boy for the first time. I got drunk and threw up for the first time. I lied to my parents for the first time.
Let me rephrase that.
I got caught lying to my parents for the first time. I had long hair for the first time in my life. I had an older brother who was my best friend, but who was also overbearing and helped me curate my motto of, “let me experience things on my own and learn from those experiences on my own.” I got hurt for the first time.
I felt like I was rich in experience, thickened by the wave of emotions that coursed through me that year. Rich, thick, and wavy like the hair on my head finally was.
7. The summer after sophomore year my skin was dark and my hair was yellow and I sent endless yellow heart emojis to a boy who called me “love.” He made me his girlfriend under the fireworks and ran his fingers through my sandy hair.
8. In 11th grade I said goodbye to the single life and long hair. I chopped it so short that when I pulled it back into a ponytail for volleyball practice, the hair underneath would fall onto my neck.
My hair was short like the days were in November, and turned brown like the color of the black tea I drank in the mornings. I left it that way until the air turned hot and the sun baked my hair blonde again. By the time I traded in my knee pads for track shoes, my hair was long enough to put into a ponytail without half of it falling down.
9. From senior year of high school, to freshman year at art school, I grew my hair out, cut it, dyed the ends of it pink, and blue, and purple. I bleached it parched and soaked it in coconut oil.
I was happy and I was new and I was sad and I was old and my hair changed as I did.
10. After freshman year of college, I spent time at the beach and sank into the solitude of the deep blue sea. That summer, I broke up with my boyfriend after what seemed like too many seasons.
I dyed my long hair blue. When my brother found out he thought I was having a mental breakdown. A quarter life crisis, he called it, even though I was only 19. I did it because I thought I was being edgy. I went to art school for God’s sake, this was a mild performance of angst.
I did it because it was just hair. That’s how I felt about a lot of things. It’s just hair. It’s just a break up. Looking back, I was obvious to everyone, but myself; blue hair for a girl with a bruised, blue heart.
11. I partied for two weeks straight after deciding not to go back to art school and enrolling in a school near the mountains. I wore glasses to blur my vision. I filled my heart with booze to sedate the pulsating aches. I dyed my blue hair blonde again to pretend the depression that lived inside of me was gone. I poured beer in my hair and down my friends throats as the sun sent bullets of sweat down my stomach. I dove into the ocean and felt the water wash the alcohol from my hair and the salt blur my drunk eyes.
12. Sophomore year of college was a lot. Light hair and happy days. Dark hair and dark times. Long hair and long nights. Short hair and short-lived feelings. A rollercoaster of boys and booze. Weekends spent with tangled hair from drives through the mountains with the windows down. Snow falling on my malleable hair. Snow melting and bringing in the Spring air. Hair-tied, heart tied, heart-eyes for only you; it was always you.
14. Over the summer I said goodbye to my hometown, and to trying to avoid my feelings. We packed a U-haul and road tripped from sea level to the rocky mountains. I didn’t cut or touch the color of my hair for the entirety of those 3 months. As my life was changing I stopped trying to change it. I let it change, I let my hair grow, I let my feelings flood back, and I let my life unfold.
I understood myself again. I accepted myself for the things that I was and the things that I wasn’t. My hair was just my hair, and I was just me.
13. My hair is brownish on the top and blonde on the bottoms now. It’s short, but falls just below my collarbones. It’s greasy and worn on most days from sweaty sessions in the gym, but sometimes it’s full and boasting with texture; messy curls and tangled waves.
Even on good days I like to wear it in a high ponytail, or cover it with a hat. I have balance in my life now, which means some days I curl my semi-straight blonde strands, and some days they don’t even see a hair brush. I no longer feel the need to show off the good hair days because I know that they aren’t going anywhere.
I’ve realized that when my hair is short, I usually have my life together and my priorities straight. When my hair is long, I’m self-destructive and drink too much wine. If my hair is ever long again, send help and call my mom.
14. Sometimes I picture myself 8 years from now, in New York City or LA, working as a busy magazine editor with a short blunt haircut. Sometimes, I have bangs in that imagination. But every time, I remember that I have an extremely round face and bangs would make me look even more like a cabbage patch kid; so then I scratch that imagination and settle for just a really short blunt cut.
15. Lately I’ve been into the 80’s, and really into the idea of a perm. My mom told me never to do it. But I could see myself at 40, as a wife with two kids, quickly losing it due to the realization that I have kids, and texting my hairdresser “perm me, bitch” out of sheer impulsivity and lack of sleep.
Could you imagine your clean, sophisticated, put together mom coming home one day with a perm? That is some funny shit.
15. For some reason, I can’t picture myself as a 60 or 70 year old woman. That’s odd, because I tend to only think about the future. But all I know, is that by the end of my days, I want to have dyed my hair all of the colors of the rainbow. I want to have cut it way, way short. Grown it out way, way long. Because hair to me is an expression of myself, my feelings, and my experiences. My hair tells the story of my life. And I hope my life is colorful, always changing, and full of different textures.