reborn by haircut

after my haircut, I spent Saturday afternoon wandering alone in soho, when I saw this beautiful Gucci display on a brick wall

after my haircut, I spent Saturday afternoon wandering alone in soho, when I saw this beautiful Gucci display on a brick wall

The first time I got a real haircut as an adult was this past January, on the day of Chinese New Years. Instead of my yearly tradition of throwing a big dinner party with my boyfriend in our apartment, I was alone in Brooklyn, too emotionally traumatized to do anything beyond boiling dumplings. Following the cliche of post-breakup haircuts, I decided that after years of keeping my hair long for him, I would cut it all off. 

I went to a Japanese hair salon in midtown and told the hairstylist - a gentle looking Japanese man in his mid-thirties - that I wanted to cut it chin-length. At the time, my hair was past my waist.  "Ohhhh," he said. "You want a big change!" He peered down at my hair, and without a word of warning, he took scissors from his pocket and cut off eight inches. Unceremoniously, curiously, as if just mildly interested in seeing what would happen. It took four snips.

thursday night in morningside heights/harlem. I haven't been up here in what feels like a year.

thursday night in morningside heights/harlem. I haven't been up here in what feels like a year.

"Okay," he said, and motioned me to follow the shampoo man. I looked down at my hair on the floor, what I had held onto for eight years; eight years of growing, trimming, growing, trimming. All of it gone, swept away in a trash can. Just like that.

I don't even need to say how I went home feeling like a different person, how I went home feeling lighter, my burdens lifted, feeling ecstatic at saving energy and time in the shower, feeling a little less emotionally vulnerable, feeling a little stronger, a little more unisex, even. I looked in the mirror and felt like one of those Chinese Communist female comrades I saw on historical dramas on Chinese television. But that's beside the point. 

tarot reading + ice cream (triple layer) with my brother and college best friend. this one was a good spread for me. (these cards are by James R Eads).

tarot reading + ice cream (triple layer) with my brother and college best friend. this one was a good spread for me. (these cards are by James R Eads).

The point is: how effortlessly my gentle Japanese hairstylist just cut it all off, in that detached manner, without so much of a warning or a blink. It was without fuss. Years of me holding onto things, containing in anxieties and reining in emotions, making things too sentimental, too precious - somehow I felt like that haircut helped me let go of it all. That drastic and deliberate change in my body dissolved my rigid sense of self. 

I got my third haircut of the year on Saturday, at a different Japanese hair salon in Nolita by a hip female hairstylist I love. Each time it feels like a practice in letting go, in shedding excess weight, in being gently detached from the present dramas of my little life. (Or maybe that's what I tell myself to justify the expense).

But each time, I remember this: sometimes letting go doesn't need to happen with an epic, dramatic struggle. Sometimes it's just saying to myself, after a long and arduous journey: my dear, you don't have to carry that luggage anymore. Just put it down, right here, right now. Sometimes it just takes four snips. And then you have to do it again. And again. 


Inspiration Logs: 

Reading this book: A Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion just started
Watched: Room and Bladerunner 2049 both of these were hard to watch, in different ways
Bought: Ultrasonic Aroma Diffuser by Muji. amazing and so pleasant
Reading this poem: Elegy by Aracelis Girmay haunting and beautiful

JourneyKening Zhu