Okay, that requires some explanation. I’ve had difficulty with my long, double-cowlick, curlyish hair most of my life. I’d been threatening to just have the stylist shave it all off for weeks.
After some reading up on the state of the world, and really thinking about things I could do for myself and others, I decided get shorn like a sheep today (with nicer results, of course).
I admit, part of it was I’m sick of the hot weather bothering the hell out of me, of the multiple times I have to wash said hair because of the sweat and heat and how my scalp itches because of those things UNLESS I take an extra shower. After three days in a row of multiple showers, I figured I was done. Besides, even if it looked like shit, I tend to wear bandannas or hats over my hair to keep the bugs away and the sun off. And I have a drawer full of scarves I got from the gift shops of a couple of museums and I’d like an excuse to wear them.
It was on the way to get my chopped off, before getting something to eat and going to work, that I saw the things that meant a lot more than how my damn hair would look when I was done.
I go from rural to suburban to interstate and city pretty quickly. That means I pass a bunch of Trump/Pence re-election signs in front yards (or trucks with the flag waving in the bed) plenty of times. My middle finger gets twitchy when I see those things, but I’m careful not to flip it when a driver can see (or homeowner).
So as I got to the suburban town between home and work, I saw a truck with two American flags waving in the bed as it passed me and went down the road. And a flag painted on the tailgate. Usually, I’ll see two different flags on any truck. This one was “all American.”
A mile down the road on the main drag in that town, I was annoyed to see a stars and bars flag flying from the bed of a beat-up pickup truck. I’ve mentioned before that I hate that flag and it just sours me every time I see it around my town.
But 30 seconds later, in front of the high school, I saw something I did not expect to see this far from Houston proper. There was a group of folks, maybe 30 or so, on the wide sidewalk/bike strip in front of the high school, walking together and some with Black Lives Matter signs chanting and yelling.
Maybe it was because of the Stars and Bars I saw earlier, combined with all the vitriol I’d read the past few weeks, the conspiracy theories and mandates from the Great Pumpkin, but I couldn’t help it.
I was going 30 m.p.h. down the main drag, and I burst into tears.
I couldn’t help it. I just started crying and laughing at the same time. I had no idea there was a group protesting so close to home, or else I would’ve tried to get there and join in.
I’ve always missed out on protests, which pisses me off because I wanna be a part of the change, too, and help others when I can.
So I did what I could to lend a voice. I didn’t wanna startle the driver in front of me, so I didn’t use the horn. The group was a bit far away because of the median and two-lanes between us, so I rolled down my window and clapped and gave thumbs up to the group while they chanted. I’m sure very few saw what I did because I had to keep driving, but I was going slow enough I could clap loud and be obvious about it.
And I kept smiling all the way down the road through my tears. Something about seeing that just lifted me up. I can’t quite describe it. Maybe it was knowing that even in these smaller towns away from the big cities that people would organize for positive change (and the idea of helping out closer to home wasn’t so far-fetched).
Maybe it was the hope that more people wouldn’t just resign themselves to being quiet cogs in Dump country down here anymore. Maybe there would be a few pro-Democrat signs coming out in the next few weeks, proudly.
And it made me decide that I needed to do something, even if I couldn’t physically be out there. I needed a reminder.
So, without reservation–and still teary–I told the lady what I wanted to do. At first she thought I was joking, but I mentioned the weather and the upkeep was a pain in the butt (I think she thought I was upset about losing my hair until I told her about the march a mile down the road).
I didn’t tell her the whole thought process; it would have taken far longer than it took her to cut all that hair off.
I didn’t tell her it was to be a reminder.
A reminder to be a better person who will stop tiptoeing around other people’s opinions, who will call out the bullshit when it comes (of course, educating myself as much as possible on the topic rather than being a reactionary because that doesn’t help much).
I know those who know their history and look for Christian symbolism would take it as some kind of a penance move, a sign of mourning (or that I was going to hell because I was a lesbian–which I’m not, it’s the short-hair stereotype thing– because that’s the kind of thinking that tends to happen in churches around here). In a way, I suppose I have been mourning and just didn’t acknowledge it.
I’ve been mourning the stereotyping that’s gone on, the tribalism, the mistrust, the promotion of idiocy over facts.
I’ve been mourning because of senseless death at the hands of those who are supposed to protect and serve… and yet, it came with such regularity it was like white noise. It was easy to filter out to the point where you could forget who was last week or the week before, and then before you knew it, there was a mountain of corpses that never should have been.
Not to mention the other millions of slights against minorities for no reason other than a moment of arrogance and prejudice.
I’ve been mourning being alone with my thoughts, just absolutely positive that no one else in my family would agree with me, and letting myself drift away from them just to avoid uncomfortable truths. More than that, uncomfortable truths for them. I have family that doesn’t really seem to know me at all, or doesn’t think to ask about anything with substance to it. I can only imagine what an honest conversation would be like with any of them, without me holding my tongue or glossing over what I think and believe to not offend them.
I’ve been mourning how conditional love has become between family and friends and neighbors these days. Perhaps it’s always been so conditional and that’s why we have these deep schisms people have shrugged their shoulders over regarding religion, race, creed, etc. But knowing that some people cannot handle anyone who disagrees with them and must purge them from their sight or heart deserves mourning.
I’ve been mourning missed chances to learn and improve myself, and make friends with different people–or try.
I’ve read that to really remember something, one should link it with a major step or date or point of significance. A haircut isn’t the biggest thing in the world by far, but to have my head sheared like a sheep is definitely going to remind me of my promise to myself.
This could be a form of penance. A reminder that life is bloody short and I can’t spend the whole time pleasing everyone else.
A reminder that I should do what I can to improve my community and wherever my reach can take me.
A reminder that stereotypes can be overcome. And by destroying my hair–so to speak–I’m rejecting living by other people’s standards of beauty and femininity and instead seeing things for myself, no matter how odd or different they may seem.
That’s what helped finalize my decision: I don’t care what I look like because I have nobody to impress, so I should just stick to what I want right now rather than worry someone will accuse me of being a lesbian or think I’m bizarre or whatever. Hell, I’m already weird as it is around my co-workers, so what’s one more thing?
And if they call me names, who cares? I’m going to offend some people just by breathing, and I’m definitely not gonna do anything to make THAT easier on them!
More than that, my hair is cut to remind me of what’s happened this year and that we can’t continue this way. And until we have some accountability and true civility (not that thinly-disguised veneer that’s been put over social discourse since the 60s), I have no real plans to grow it back out.
There’s 144 more days until the election come midnight. That’s what I wanted to remind myself about. Getting the word out and helping other voices be heard when at all possible.
It’s a reminder to keep the momentum going, and don’t let it die out as it has in movements and years past. We can’t afford any more of this. No one could.
So, I’m reminding myself we have no more time to be a coward. I’ve often been made fun of for bad haircuts in my life, sometimes reduced to tears. Well, this one’s definitely different, and I think my face is too fat to really pull the look off… but it’s a reminder to take charge of myself and be bolder. To be a fearless advocate and assist others whenever possible. No more hiding or shame. Be bold and stand up for what’s right.
And vote in 144 days…