Friday, July 22, 2016

Teach 'em how to say goodbye, part 1: Hair.

Two and a half years ago, I cut my hair while in Boston as I was just embarking on a journey to be a nomadic dance instructor.

Since then, I've traveled around the world, shared with so many communities, and met countless amazing, talented, loving people. I visited a new continent and contemplated what I want in life 30 meters deep in an ocean. I’ve cuddled a koala bear. I learned what it means to dare greatly and be truly vulnerable. I taught myself how to be a software engineer and added a new career path that allows me to balance engineering with traveling for dance. I feel vastly more in tune with my self, I feel more self-actualized than ever before. I lived through the blossoming and passing of two life-changing relationships that have permanently altered my character and course in life. I’ve loved so intensely it terrified me, so hard it felt like my heart was ripping out of my chest. I’ve felt unimaginable grief and learned how to really, truly cry. Living in a suitcase taught me innumerable valuable lessons about myself and what I want in life, it forced me to strip away so much of my life and look at what lies at the core of my existence. It allowed me to explore a career as a dance instructor and to share my passion with the world. All the while, my hair continued to grow.

I'm now ready for the next phase of life. One focused on setting down roots, forming deeper bonds, traveling (a little) less, diving into the great unknown of laying a foundation for my long-term future of family and children. A new stage of adulthood. As part of the metamorphosis, I need to say goodbye to the accoutrements of my past iteration of living, of the materials that linked me energetically to a certain way of being.

First up: my hair. My hair that has been with me for over two years, growing steadily along with me. It's been put in man-buns, ponytails, caked with playa dust, shaped into beautiful braids, and had many flowers woven into it. It allowed me to express a feminine side of myself. There are so many memories embedded in my hair, and now it's time to move on from them, look forward to the next memories to be formed. I'll be donating the hair to a charitable cause.


I could not have stepped through this pivotal transformation without the adept support of Gretchen Metzenberg. Thank you, Gretchers, for all your emotional labor in helping me along this journey. You are a loving and amazing friend.

And now: the photos...

We began with Gretchen banging me that morning, because why not get some laughs before cutting off all my hair.



And then it was off to the barber. Me preparing for it to be chopped off...



Having some fun along the way...



I couldn’t believe how much hair was there.


The end result!




It has been such a long time that I’ve had a trendy men’s haircut, I hardly recognize myself. Having long hair was fun, I always enjoyed the commentary about my blonde mane, and it allowed me to express a feminine side.




It was a lot of fun and deeply playful, gender-bending in this way, but at the end of the day when I'd look at photos of me it didn't quite… look like me. At least when I didn't have my hair properly maintained. I will always think the braids look fantastic and masculine in a Nordic sort of way, but I guess it was just time for a change, time to change my hair along with so many other things in my life. I’m sure there will be times I will miss it. But it will always be with me in spirit, these memories and learnings, I will carry them in my heart. And, if I really want to, I can always grow my hair back out. It feels good to exercise control in through these sort of drastic, pseudo-permanent ways.

It’s thrilling and bewildering at the same time, having a traditional haircut. I hardly recognize myself, and yet I can’t really imagine myself any way but with the shorter hair, it just seems to fit me right now. But I’m quite excited for this redefinition of self. It’s identifying with the mainstream in a way I don’t normally do, but I’m more accepting of it this time around. I feel more masculine, which is interesting because it’s all because of an arbitrary societal preference for shorter hair among men. But, it works. I feel attractive and lively and bright in a way I had lost touch with particularly over the past six to twelve months.

I feel like a new man. Hello, world.