Waking up light-headed is not an experience I’ve bypassed throughout my life, but one morning was different. No headache accompanied my state of being that day. Neither excess drink, lack of sleep, sinus conditions, or dizziness wrought by atmospheric changes prompted my situation. Rather, a sense of satisfaction filled my awareness, instigated by trip to the barber.
As a Peace and Love spirited product of the 1960s, hair has been something I’ve admired and appreciated––especially with premature male baldness connected to my father’s side of the family.
“Give me lots of hair; long beautiful hair.”
Like the Cowsills, and every hippie wanna-be from that era, that was my anthem too. But as the world emerged from the 60s, gyrated through 70s Disco, and head-banged into the 80s, unless you thumped a Fender bass, picked a screaming Stratocaster or beat a set of Ludwigs and Zinjins in a Heavy Metal band, fashionable hair length gradually receded––mine too.
Marriage, kids, mortgage payments, and responsibilities. Pop, Grunge, Country, and Rap. Trends further changed through the 90s and on into the 21st century, while folks’ cranial carpets remained brief––even for women––and I complied. Complete baldness––the Yul Brenner haircut––caught on too, even for men who still had something to comb. Other than flooring––and unkempt dreadlocks––shag had not revived.
In the late 90s I became a Colorado mountain dweller. There I discovered that no follicle restrictions were enforced or implied. From chrome domes to shoulder length; nice and neat to ponytails, anything goes. No wonder memories of gaudily painted VW buses and flower children erupted––along with my hair. But my coif presented compromise––short in front, with a ponytail dangling nearly to my waist in the rear.
Resurrecting past hair styles, however, was not without consequence. Daily preparations for work forced schedule alterations. Washing, drying, and binding my extensive mane required planning and patience. Tying it back with a four-foot leather thong, behind my head––where eyeballs do not reside, and mirrors only made the task more difficult––frequently challenged my temperament, and often put my arms to sleep. In order to arrive on time each day and retain my sanity––questionable as it may have seemed to some folks already––simplification became a necessity. I had to make a decision––a sacrifice––but the choice was easy, which returns me to the origin of this tale.
I bobbed my lengthy do and donated it to Locks of Love, an organization that accepts human hair in order to construct life-like wigs for cancer patients who endure the physical exhaustion and mental humiliation of chemotherapy. Starting with my mother, too many people with whom I am––or was––close to have borne that burden. My decision to become light-headed and content was a no-brainer. My choice not only eased my daily routine, but also helped make life more bearable for someone suffering a fate far worse than mine.
I knew my hair would grow long and full once more. God willing, so did the folks who endured therapy. But for the period when all things appeared to have gone to Hell for them, my gift–– and others like mine––served to restore dignity and promote healing.
Two years later, when hair searched for my waistline once again, I faced an obvious solution. Without reservation, I donated once more. Because after all, you never know.