When my firstborn was a few weeks old I decided it was time to get back in the game. I had gotten just enough sleep the night before to believe that I was on the verge of recovery, and what I needed was a good haircut to feel spiffed up and normal.
I booked an appointment at an upscale salon, stuffed my body into something closely resembling a non-maternity outfit, and headed to my appointment. Chatting with the stylist she suggested that “…Meg Ryan’s new haircut …” would look well on me. I was too embarrassed to tell her that I had no idea what she was talking about, and that I had been too busy with a newborn to even consider going to the movies, but I said “sure” and emerged from the salon an hour or so later more traumatized than I had been after a complicated labor and delivery.
When I cut my hair just weeks after giving birth I went into a tailspin because nothing felt the same anymore. My body was a wreck, my brain was fried from no sleep, my routine had taken a nosedive…and now I had an unfamiliar (and yes, unflattering) haircut that required an entirely new skill set to manage. I cried more over my lost locks than I did over cracked nipples and no sleep.
When you are going though a major transition in your life – marriage, new motherhood, divorce, widowhood – there is a great deal of comfort to be found in the routine. When everything else in your life looks and feels strange, it’s nice to be able to look in the mirror and be greeted by a familiar face.
Just after my divorce was finalized I remember thinking that I was now a new person with a new life and a new plan and wouldn’t a new haircut be just the thing to jumpstart my newness. I’m not sure if I was trying to escape the person I had been or design the person I thought I was going to be, but nevertheless I called the salon and booked an appointment. Thankfully the person who had been tending to my locks throughout the dreadful divorce process suggested that perhaps a few strategically placed highlights and parting my hair on the other side might make me feel fresher than a whole new ‘do. I’m convinced that she saved me from yet another “Meg Ryan Disaster”, which could have been catastrophic given the fragile state of my affairs.
This past summer, on the heels of a hideous breakup, I once again found myself thinking that a haircut would effectively cut off all the misery and heartache that was growing out of control. On the phone with the salon I was about to ask for a haircut but opted instead for a color appointment. I left a few hours later with a nice trim and a sassy set of red and blonde highlights.
When I got home I stared into the mirror and decided that I looked different enough to be inspired but not different enough to be unknown.