Today I finished cutting my hair off, plus I put in a streak of emerald green.
When I showed up at the salon, the gal who has been doing my hair for seven years was shocked to see that six inches of my hair had been disappeared since I saw her last.
I told her I had a fit one night and put it in a ponytail and cut it off.
“Were you alone when you chopped it off?” she asked.
I hesitated only a moment before I answered. “Not if you count the Hindu goddess Kali,” I said.
“Okay, then,” she said.
See? I am trying to be out of the broom closet in all kinds of places, even though Edith says that I sound cray-cray.
But really, that’s what it felt like. Like I was not alone and I really needed to chop it off.
Okay, I’d had two glasses of red wine. Erika laughs when I say this.
“So many of my clients’ stories start that way!” she says.
“With two glasses of red wine?”
“Nope. Always wine,” she says.
I tell her that I really hesitated. I have made some really bad home hairstyling decisions when under the influence before. Like the night that I was finally ready to commit to that box of color up the street at Safeway, and my friend Ward pulled up at the corner when I was walking up to get it and three pints later I did go get that box and perform home hair color. When I finished, there was a bottle left over…Uh-oh. That didn’t seem right…
My hair ended up looking like a spotted, leprous flamingo. Sooo bad.
Did I mention this was the night before my first big presentation at the staff meeting at my new job? I got about three seconds in before the smart ass guy who worked with unions raised his hand.
“What the fuck happened to your hair?”
So, you see, I was a bit hesitant when, two glasses in, I suddenly felt this urge to cut off my ponytail. But it wasn’t just an urge, it was like a drive, like a train through my chest, right on the spot where Kali had carved away all that scar tissue last summer. And the drive had a beat to it: It’s got to go. It’s got to go.
I got up and went into the bathroom and looked in the mirror.
I’d had long hair for five years. I’d been growing it out ever since my son stopped breast-feeding. It was dark and thick and down to my shoulder blades.
I got compliments on it.
It was pretty.
It’s got to go.
There’s a point when being pretty is a trap, a performance that becomes invisible. Being likable can become a way of being, of having power in the world. By pleasing. It’s really available to us women. Receiving power when we are likable, when we please…
It’s got to go.
But, is this the wine talking? I sat alone on my loveseat in the dim light of a post-bedtime living room. But not alone, because I had the dark and fierce presence of Kali, around my chest, especially on the left side. When She is with me, She is implacable, not patient or tender, but not impatient either. She is certainty. There is so much uncertainty in my life now. When will I be able to work again? Am I doing the right thing for Forest, as he works through his shit? Will going through this initiation help me teach it in June? Will white toenail polish with silver glitter topcoat make my toes look like snowflakes? Or fungal?
(Fungal, it turns out, fyi.)
But even with the presence of the dark goddess, of that driving certainty, I still had to do my little choice ritual: I put the two choices in my hands, like little invisible eggs, kind of like dryer lint (I don’t know why, but I always do think of dryer lint… the energy is fuzzy, unformed…Edith: “cray-cray!”...Shush!)
Anyway, I put the fuzzy gray choices in each hand and I felt them. I focused on one and felt how my body responded: stronger? Looser? Or weaker and tighter?
I got a really clear read that night. From Her and from me.
It’s got to go.
So I stood up and went downstairs and got my sewing scissors and went into the bathroom. I turned on all the lights and looked at myself. Yes. I am doing this.
I stood over the white pedestal sink, put my long long hair into a ponytail at the nape of my neck and then stared into my own black and green eyes as I scissored through the thick thick wad of hair and cut it free.
It felt amazing.
I felt like I had cut off a year of my life, that past year, when I was in so much pain and trying to pretend that I wasn’t, that if I just kept going, kept scheduling tighter, organizing more, I’d be able to keep it up.
In the hero’s journey, there is a point in the middle of Act II. The hero is on the journey. She has accepted the call, but she thinks that she will be able to complete this journey without having to change.
Ravyn’s been studying and teaching initiation and alchemy for years and is so wildly talented.
I’ve been studying and teaching heroic storytelling.
We compared notes: the hero’s journey and initiation. We discovered something amazing: From the outside, a story looks like a hero’s journey. But from the point of view of the hero, of the one who has to let the old self die, it looks like initiation.
I reached that point, of knowing I couldn’t go on as I had, last September, when I came home from BC camp with Kali riding me, giving me the courage to come out of the broom closet and obey my body and leap into the unknown.
And then I cut off that pretty, likable, not listening year’s worth of hair.
Finished the job today. Added a big ole splash of emerald green on one side, too.
I almost chickened out on the green at the last minute. But then I put the choices in my hands…
And I love it.