When I was a child, I thought my father's mother was the most beautiful woman in the world. Although I must have been around six or seven, I have the most vivid memory of her standing at her mirror, brushing out her waist-length mane of thick, graying curls. At night she would pull the pins from her twist of hair, free it from its coil with graceful tenderness and practiced efficiency. It became a ritual, for the little time I spent with her, the both of us sitting on a bench in front of the mirror, chatting about the day's little wonders while she combed through her wonderful hair.
My hair has always been short, and I have always had a strange relationship with it. The last time I cut my hair, I was twenty four, and had just quit my job. I cropped it close, and then regretted it so much that I wept for days. It's been three years since then, but I find it hard to believe that it hasn't been a lifetime. My hair reaches my waist now, longer than it has ever been in my life, and I am also spiritually, creatively and personally in a place I have never been. It is a new place, but it is older than I am.
I haven't seen my grandmother in at least ten years, but I feel closer to her, somehow. I know now how much she taught me about life, about being gentle with oneself, about listening, and about being a woman, in those few evenings on the bench in front of the mirror. I know that there is something special about this business of one's hair.
At the beginning of January, my husband, who has just lost his own grandmother, confided in me that he feels like he shouldn't cut his hair for awhile. It is growing quickly and beautifully, and for him, is a much-needed connection to his grandmother, to his great-grandmother, and to an impossibly mixed ancestry he will never truly be able to pin down.
It suddenly occurred to me today, while sitting in my backyard with one of my sweet elderly dogs, with a sudden, unexpected clarity, that I must not let a blade touch my hair anytime in the foreseeable future. It has become impossibly bound up with vision, creative journey, love, wildness and selfhood for me. I feel something here, an echo of something true and real and endless, and I want to hold on to it, to see where the vision leads.
For Grandma Amoy. I love you and I miss you, wherever you are.
Thank you for what you give me. <3