Today, I am linking up with Mama Kat's blog with one of her weekly writing prompts. Her writing prompt "A Hair Disaster" brought back so many memories, that I thought I'd share them here today!
You know, I rarely have what I would call many great hair days...I do remember being so thankful on my wedding day because my hair felt extraordinarily pretty that day. (Thanks to Gina, her comb, White Rain, and some good old fashioned back-combing!) Every once in a while, I will bounce out of the salon, with a fresh haircut, feeling cute and sassy. However, most of my hair days are, "Eh, not too bad." Or, "Eh, good enough."
For the most part, I don't think about my hair that often. It is what it is. Some days good, some days put 'er in a ponytail. But, when a hair tragedy strikes, I start to wonder about my vanity--because my hair is ALL I can think about. I remember the summer a couple of years ago when my out-of-whack hormones caused me to lose hair--especially up front--at an alarming rate. When my hairdresser confirmed my hair-loss fears, I remember nights when I would cry silently into my pillow, worrying about how I would deal with glaring bald spots. The glaring bald spots never did come, and my hormones eventually evened out...But the memory of fear and sadness over losing my hair remains.
My worst hair disaster happened many years before my sweet babies threw my hormones for a loop. My worst hair disaster occurred during the tender year as a newlywed, when I was still learning how to be married, and yet still learning how to be me, as a married woman.
Dave and I didn't have much money in those days. Okay, we didn't have any extra. Paying for haircuts was a real luxury. We had been married 9 months when we were looking at packing up and moving for 3 months, to work at a summer camp (the same summer camp where we met, and had worked the 3 summers before.) I was excited to go back to the camp as a married couple, and really wanted a fresh haircut--a new look--to start our summer adventure.
I had a salon all picked out--that some cute-hair friends used. I also had done my research to find out how much the haircuts were. I was all set with the details for my new look. I remember saying what I say WAY TOO OFTEN when sitting in those pumped up vinyl salon chairs, "What do YOU think?" I told the stylist that I had always wanted short hair, and had even thought about a permenant, to give my hair some curl. And, of course, then asked what he thought I should do with my hair. Now, granted--I should not have asked for such a drastic change when using a brand new stylist...but as a stylist--he should not have given a client he didn't even know such a drastic change.
How drastic a change was it? Well, at that point, I had NEVER had short hair (well, other than when I was 2 and my brother gave me a haircut!). Basically, I have worn my hair the same way my entire life--middle-length brown straight hair. There have been some bangs along the way, and some layering, but basically, my hair has stayed on the same course. Call me boring if you like. I like to call it dependable. *grin*
Wow, I'll never forget seeing the pile of hair on the floor, and seeing my curly, very short hair for the first time in my life! It was like looking at a different person in the mirror. I admit--I didn't think it looked terrible. It just looked really different. Oh yeah--and for the first time, I realized that I have a very long neck. Call me a giraffe.
The real shock for me came the next day, when it was time to "fix" my hair. There were 2-inch layers--curly layers--everywhere. I had never dealt with curls, nor short hair like that. I am sure I spent an entire hour just trying to figure out what to do with it. Wow, as I just typed that sentence I also remembered something--I had a mullet in back! I had completely forgotten that part! (Blocked it out, I'm sure!) I think I spent a week with a strange, curly brown mullet in the back of my head before I grabbed a pair of scissors, looked over my shoulder into the mirror and began chopping. I cut a good 2 1/2 inches off the back to get rid of that nasty mullet! I'm sure the hair wasn't straight in back--but with all those curls--who could tell?
At the beginning of summer, I dreaded getting up every day and having to do something with my hair. I felt so helpless--I just didn't know what to do with my cowlicks and the unruly mop of curls everywhere. I didn't look like myself, and I didn't feel like myself. Blowdrying my hair straight only made it look like a big, puffy, old lady's hairdo--which was even more depressing than the mop of curls.
2 immediate things helped me survive that hair disaster--cutting off the nasty mullet, and the glorious world of bandanas. Once I figured out that I could twist a bandana and tie it into my hair as a headband--I finally looked like myself again! Honestly, I think I cried tears of relief the first time I put in a bandana. You might think that's silly, but for the first time since my hair disaster, I felt like someone familiar was looking back at me in the mirror. And, I had finally found a way I could "do" my hair. What a relief.
There was a 3rd thing that helped me get through that disaster, and that whole summer. Remember--not only was I dealing with bad hair (shallow, I know!), but I was also feeling my way along as a new wife, in a tiny un-airconditioned cabin at a summer camp. I was just way out of my comfort zone, in all directions.
About 2 weeks into summer camp, I found an envelope with my name on it. I recognized the distinct handwriting right away, and knew it was from the camp director. When I opened the card, and saw a cartoon girl with a bad haircut on the front, I quickly tucked the card into the envelope, and went into our little cabin to read it privately. I'm glad I did, because when I read Casey's encouraging words, her empathetic words, I just cried. I cried because someone had noticed what a difficult time I'd been having. And not only noticed--but was putting her arm around my shoulders in understanding.
I cannot tell you what that card, and those kind words meant to me that day--and that whole summer. I will tell you that I kept that card on the shelf where I got dressed every morning, as a reminder. I will also tell you that I have kept that card all these years, tucked away in a special drawer. And I don't keep cards. But, this one is special to me. It reminds me of how that small kindness meant so much that summer. It reminds me that even when things seem really tough, or overwhelming, many times someone does notice--and often speaks a small kind word, gives a knowing smile, asks an empathetic question, or even writes a note with encouraging words.
The card also reminds me how I need to be aware of those around me who may be struggling. Who may be in the middle of a hair disaster, or worse. And whose day--or entire summer--can be soothed and uplifted with a few kind words.