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Shaving Mom’s Wings: Reflections on Hair

Every so often I get an urge. This urge tells me, “try something new!” which usually means do something to my hair, though occasionally this urge manifests as a desire to pierce my ears or try different makeup. I don’t know why I feel this way, sometimes I just want to shake things up! Back in April, after going for many months without cutting my hair at all, and over a year without coloring it, I went all out with a rainbow theme. The rainbow faded, and so I went with a peacock/jewel-toned color range. Hair urges aside, my trip to the salon reminded me of my mom.

My mom had thick, unruly hair that was wavy and wispy; we called the little fly-aways her “wings.” She had a longstanding relationship with a hair stylist named Kielty, who I remember being red headed and kind. Although my mom was no stranger to box dyes (she hated when her gray roots started showing), Kielty was her main gal. Kielty cut my hair a few times, and my sister went to her through high school.

During my senior year, my mom started to lose her hair. That’s generally what happens with chemotherapy. Rather than deal with months of hair loss, she decided to shave it all off in one go. She was too sick for the salon, so Kielty came to our house. She put newspapers down on the linoleum, draped a towel over my mom’s shoulders, and shaved all the wings from her head. They made a million curlicues on the floor that we scooped up and threw away.

Leaving the salon last week, I was struck by these intimate relationships we form with hair stylists – with lots of people that we pay for goods or services (like a barista), but hair seems especially intimate. I don’t know what it meant to Kielty, but to me that moment was one of compassion, kindness, and love. It was a moment of closeness. And it was an important moment. Maybe she remembers it, maybe not; but it meant so much to me.

I met Lauren when I went to nail school; she attended the same school, but for cosmetology. I guess I just thought she was cool, so I internet stalked her and set up an appointment at her salon a few years ago. I’ve never had an ongoing relationship with a stylist before; there’s something so lovely about going to her salon, catching up, and coming home with kickass hair.

PS Here’s my rainbow hair that Lauren did in April. If you live in Denver, you should go see her at Revolver.

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