It’s April. The first warblers are back, the skunk cabbage has popped up, the daffodils are beautiful (until hit with an unexpected return of cold, cruel New Jersey winter), and my husband is getting his annual haircut.
Yes, I said annual.
When I met him in college, in 1977, his hair was longer than mine. When we moved in together, and later married, I cut his hair. It was very simple to do – just follow an imaginary line. No layering or fancy stuff.
However, a few years ago he decided that. No offense – he wanted a professional to do it.
I was not upset. I was glad he wanted to neaten his appearance. He has a beard that tends to get wide and bushy unless he trims, which he doesn’t do in winter. (At least once someone will yell out “Hey, Santa!” at him, and if you saw him you’d understand why.)
He is philosophical about his bald spot, and figures leaving his hair to run long in back for a good hunk of the year balances everything out. Same with the gray in his temples and beard. At least he has hair.
When he decides he’s ready, he starts trimming his beard heavily. A day or so later, he goes to a local barber shop. He doesn’t wait long, and listens to the regulars (including the two women who cut the hair and the male owner) gossip around him with the customers. Maybe a TV is on, maybe not.
I, meanwhile, stopped pulling out the gray hairs when they got too numerous. I go to a cut-rate chain (pun intended) where, usually after a long wait, I have rarely had the same haircutter twice. Music blares, and it is hard to make conversation, presuming I wanted to, much less hear others. I am never sure I am correctly telling the young woman (or occasional man) what I want. Sometimes the result is less than great.
I think of getting my hair cut the way I think of the hospital – a place I want to avoid unless absolutely necessary.
That’s why for the last two winters I have skipped the haircut and let my hair grow. Maybe I’ll trim my bangs. MH is the only one who sees me every day now, and he accepts me as I am. Like him, I know when to finally get that haircut, usually when I start looking like my 1974 high school yearbook photo – long, straight hair, parted down the middle.
MH is fine with whatever I do, or don’t do, because after so many decades together, we know what’s important is not how we look, but being with each other. The whole package, including good and bad hair days. Our friends are now like that, too, because we are all over 50, and are tired of working to impress anyone – either on the job or in the bedroom.
We can be real, and ourselves, at last.