Friday, August 12, 2011

Goodbye, friend.

This morning, like most mornings, I woke up and sleepily (subconsciously) searched my bedroom for a hair tie. Bulette, my 11-month-old grey kitten, habitually swipes them from my dresser at night and it takes me a few minutes in the morning to find one. It's usually under the bed. Little hoarder. 

Sometimes though, she drops them next to me in a pile hoping I'll wake up in the middle of the night and play with her. That's where they were today, a few inches from my pillow.

I grabbed one, put it on my wrist and walked to the bathroom for a shower. I past in front of the mirror, stopped, walked back … looked. Turns out, I don't need hair ties anymore.

Yup. I got a hair cut. 

A big one.

I chopped my locks clean off.

If you've only known me with long hair then this might surprise you. It may seem drastic. It's not. In fact, this was the plan all along.

I started growing my hair out in October 2007. In November that year my high school journalism advisor, Dan Halcomb, died after a years-long bout with cancer.

I loved him. He was my teacher for two years and friend for six. He's the reason I got into journalism. He's the reason I'm good at it. He's the reason I teach. I think he'd like that.

Excluding my parents, Halcomb influenced my life more than any adult. Many times he encourage me in ways they couldn't.

My 22-year-old self responded to his death by growing my hair long. It was a way to remember him. At the time, I made a personal pact: when it was long enough — and I was ready — I would donate it. Yesterday I woke up, ready.

I didn't have an appointment, I didn't even have a stylist. It's been almost four years since my last hair cut, can you blame me?

I asked a few friends if they knew some one who could fit me in that day. They didn't. And I didn't want to wait. I didn't want to make an appointment, I just wanted to cut it off. I spent some time on Google, read some reviews and called L'Essence. The salon is only a couple blocks from Reno Collective and I thought it might be nice to walk there. Also, they offer you a drink. And you definitely don't get that at Great Clips.

They had an opening. The woman who answered the phone said I would be meeting with Amber. I told her — warned her — that it had been a while since my last trim and I might need some extra time.

"Not a problem," she said.

I spent an hour in the chair, drank my beer and made small talk.

I came in with hair down my back. I left with a 12-inch ponytail in my hand. I could have donated more, maybe another 8 inches — I wish I had — but I wasn't sure how short I really wanted to go.

On my way home I stopped by my mailbox. I dropped the ponytail in a plastic bag, dropped the bag in an envelope and the envelope in the outgoing slot en route to Locks Of Love in Florida.

As I drove down the hill to my house, I thought about Halcomb. I remembered the chemotherapy, the hospital beds and the sacrifices he made to teach a bunch of kids about journalism. In comparison, my sacrifice is small. It's just hair. But it felt good. And I hope some day it really does end up in some sick kid's wig.



Photos by Amy Beck. Thank you.