I have had a hate relationship with my hair since it started falling out. The thing is my chemo isn’t harsh enough or my hair follicles are too tough for ALL of it to fall out. And I really just wanted all of it to fall. There is nothing worse than picking hair off your body after every shower. Nothing more discouraging than seeing hair all over your bathroom floor no matter how many times it is vacuumed. Nothing more disheartening than rising from a pillow and it looks like a small animal just slept there. And there is nothing that can remind you more that you are sick than looking in the mirror and seeing a dog with mange instead of a human staring back.
At one point, I angrily hacked at it with kitchen scissors because I was so tired of being hot. Like any good moment of literary drama, the outside heat caused the anger to rise at the situation as a whole. Like a three-year-old I just started cutting away massive chunks. I didn’t even need the mirror. I was going to make it as short and ugly as possible. Mom tried to fix it with real hair scissors, but the damage was done. There was really only one solution.
Two things were preventing the full shave from the beginning: The first was Mom. She has an obsession with my curls and has since I was the baby who popped out with a massive curl on top of my little head. Michael had once shaved his head and she had a tiny freak out. As much as she kept saying “you can do whatever you want,” there was a hidden tone of “Please, not yet.” The second reason was personal. I didn’t want to feel unfeminine. I didn’t want to look like a freak or feel unsexy. I didn’t know what my bald head would look like. As I said before, I came out with hair. And I certainly had no inkling how others would react to a bald woman, especially in Uruguay where long luscious locks are the norm. That apprehension was worse than dealing with the little hair that I had. Plus, it had taken me years to come to terms with my hair. As a child and teen, I hated it! I hated the fussy and unruly curls. I hated that I didn’t look like other girls in my school with their straight early 2000’s hair. When I finally came to terms with the fact that my curls were cool, they defined me. It took years of hair battles and therapy for my curls to empower me as a woman. So losing them completely would be a major loss, indeed. Even with the logic that they would grow back.
So what tipped me over the edge? I was sitting with my head covered, sweating bullets. I wanted to ripped the covering right off my head, but that morning I had a particularly large piece come off in the shower. And the massive bald spot was preventing me from being comfortable. I thought, “If I was completely bald, this wouldn’t be an issue.”
Tavis and Diego are my friends who have had years of bald experience. Both of them have shaved their heads at some point in their lives. They have the equipment and the expertise. When we went apple picking with them, I made a plan. The next day, we would have a shaving party. I headed to their house (no pun intended), we found the perfect music, and away we went – me in a chair, Diego with the shaver, Tavis as videographer, and their friend Leandro as moral support. Diego is a very precise and gentle soul, so I knew I was in good hands.
We played around for a bit…did the side shave and the silly shaves.
Every once-in-a-while the shaver stopped as Diego removed their kitty from under his feet. Watching the hair fall around me was an odd experience – both freeing and terrifying at the same time. It’s that “oh shit, I can’t back out now” feeling. I get the same feeling at the top of a roller coaster or at the very top of a waterfall in a kayak.
With the last little tuff being swiped away, it was done. I was bald. And my head kind of felt amazing! I was feeling air flow like I had never felt it before. Every time Diego rubbed my head with the brush, I got tingles down my spine. I took a shower to get all of the hair off me and the droplets on my skull was just a bizarre sensation. The only way I can describe it is like when someone barely brushes your arm with their fingertip, and you get this slightly erotic and slightly chilled feeling that travels up your spine. That moment of whooo who who! That’s how sensations feel on a newly bald head.
And then there is the mirror. I must say, I have a pretty stellar shaped head. There is no odd dent or color surprise. I was surprised, however, by my slight widow’s peak I never knew I had. The hairline definitely makes a little ‘v’ at the front. And my eyes are huge without hair. And my cheekbones actually look like a girl. I also have a new-found loving relationship with certain features. For example, my ears are quite cute. I kind of feel like a badass. A rockstar. The most elevated form of my femininity. I now know why women do this intentionally. Without hair, there is a purity of self, an unhidden face to display to the world. I was worried about not feeling sexy and I can assure you it is not a problem. I am woman, hear me roar.
And finally, I realized just how much my brother and I look alike. I grabbed his picture from Facebook from when he had shaved his head in college. We are twins. If there was ever a doubt of paternity, I can assure you that we come from the same parents. It is eerie how similarly the parental genes mixed to create us six years apart. There are slight differences of where one parent’s features overpower the other, but the similarities are uncanny. After setting the pictures side-by-side, I felt this overwhelming connection with my brother – A sharing of both knowledge and kinship that I had not felt so profoundly before.
So this is what I now know about my head:
- Rubbing it from back to front sends instant shivers down my spine.
- The place where their is a soft-spot on a baby’s head is the most sensitive spot.
- The back of my head gets cold before the front.
- I have a tiny tiny freckle at the very tip top that Mom found. I cannot see it.
- The palm of my hand can perfectly fit around the back of my skull like I am palming a basketball.
- When a head covering is applied, my skulls acts like velcro. Same with pillows.
- Water hitting my head is the most amazing sensation. And despite the fact I don’t need to wash any hair, showers are now longer.
- My head is quite warm.
And I am beyond grateful to Tavis and Diego for their part in all of this. I cannot imagine better people to help with my transformation.