One of the more freeing realizations I’ve come to in adulthood is that I’m allowed to go home when I’m not having fun anymore. I lean introverted, and while I enjoy being around people there comes a point where enjoyment gives way to effort. That’s the very point, now, where I start to make my goodbyes. After years of sticking around for fear of missing out, I’ve become a habitual party leaver. Rather than persist in the hope that external forces will turn my mood around, I take ownership of my experience and call it quits as soon as I run out of social energy. My life has been much improved by this practice.
This past week I decided it was time to leave the hair party.
When I was young my hair was my favorite physical feature. It was dense and soft and I had a lot of it. In those early High School years of awkward longing and crippling anxiety, conspiring to have peers touch and marvel over my excellent hair was an important step towards having actual human contact in my life. But in my early twenties my hairline began a gradual retreat up my scalp, and by my mid twenties the crown of my head began to thin, noticeable if you were looking for it. I dealt with this by getting shorter and more sculpted haircuts and by not thinking about it too much, which carried me a good few years. But as my hairline receded from the corners of my forehead, the erosion fronts curled in to meet each other, leaving a poodle-puff island of bang hair it was increasingly impossible to make look non-ridiculous. Then, a stark Facebook vision: a picture from the most recent International Conference for the Fantastic in the Arts in which I appear in the background, on the far side of a decorative lamp, facing away from the camera. Lit from above my bald spot glowed, alien as part of someone else’s body. I looked at that photograph and thought, “I’m not having fun anymore.”
I went in to my local Bird’s Babershop, sat in Susi’s chair, and told her she had free reign to experiment. She tried a few options, taking my hair off in layers, before finally deciding, “I think you’ll look best if we just go for a buzz cut.” Thus:
Response from everyone else has been fairly positive so far. Everyone, that is, save for my parents. My mother hates it, though loves me enough that she is trying gamely to pretend she doesn’t. And for my part, I’m still shocking myself whenever I see a reflection and trying to reconcile myself to a differently shaped head on top of my shadow, but am overall excited. A whole new look means whole new vectors for self expression and presentation. I get to experiment with different beard lengths to go with my cropped top. I’m learning my wardrobe anew–what works now, what doesn’t. And, since head sunburn is now a thing I have to concern myself with, my newest wardrobe addition is my first grownup hat.
I think this new party’s going to work out okay.