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1. For a short time in my young life, my father was in charge of my morning routine. Wake up, kiddo, brush your teeth and then we’ll brush your hair. And every day he knew the challenge awaiting him: the miraculous rat’s nest my head had produced with only eight hours sleep.  My mother says it came as no surprise the day she came home to my bobbed off hair.  My father was never fond of untangling fishing line, and he looked at my hair no different. 


2. It took her seven years after she left to finally write me back. She said, I bought your shampoo for a year. I smelled you on strangers. I still do.  


3. Her fingers fit fantastically on my cranium.  Her palms were the perfect size to sit on my temples, her pinkies arching like the most wonderfully fitting glasses above my ears. The right amount of pressure. She would wrap her hands around my head and dance her fingers down the back. She would tap each set of fingers in a wave. Forefinger, middle, ring, pinky, repeat. She would whisper Ah-sip-it-all, ah-sip-it-all, ah-cip-it-all,oc-cip-it-al.

The year I almost died- she did this for me all winter. To keep me awake, to put me to sleep, to keep me from going under in a tub full of water.  I remember looking up at her, my eyes underwater, her body distorted. She was washing my hair; the soap stung. 

There were tears in her eyes.  Her hands found the position they were built for, scratching her nails into my head trying to clean the hospital stench off of me.

Ah, sip it all up, baby.

You can’t die on me now. That’s not how this works.


4. He told me, don’t laugh- but when your hair is this short it is so, so soft…like a bunny

He patted my head.

He ruffled my feathers.


5. Once, she cut my hair in the kitchen of her apartment on a Sunday afternoon. The sun shone in through the window above her sink.  The curtains couldn't contain the light. I sat in an orange vinyl chair salvaged from a college town thrift shop and watched a prism cast a dancing rainbow on her smoke-stained what-once-was-white walls. She did her best matador impression, fanning out the thin brown plastic cape and snapping it tightly against my neck.  

We were laughing, she couldn’t hold the scissors still. She leaned in close to my ear, her lips were so sure of themselves. Shhhh. Be careful, don’t move. She steadied her hand against my temple, I giggled and said, who cuts hair left handed. She said, be serious, hold still I closed my eyes and heard the snapping of the steel blades against each other next to my ear.  Perfectly sharpened scissors shearing off those shaggy locks that I had been growing for so long. A perfect cadence, snip snip,  snip snip.

I watched my thick hair pile on the floor at my feet.  She swept it up, every last bit, and distributed it amongst the plants on her windowsill.

You have no idea how much you will help them grow.

6. In the third grade, my grandma broke my heart by refusing to cut my hair in my requested style: a boy’s cut

Every month or two, I climb into my bathtub, naked and armed.  Closing my eyes as muscle memory controls my hands passing the guarded clippers over the occipital bone. Ah, sip it all up.  The old growth falling in small increments, like snow flakes, sticking to my shoulders, my chest. Running the clippers behind and over my ears, the buzzing clippers vibrating not just my ear drum but my entire head.  And then, requiring the most delicate touch, I clean the hairs from my neckline without the guard and without a mirror. 

I still hear my grandma’s voice in my head every time. People are going to think that you’re different.


Let ‘em.