I'd spent a lifetime trying to tame my curls, rushing from air-conditioned house to car to school in an attempt to escape the vicious Louisiana humidity. In high school I'd wash my bangs in the bathroom sink between classes, using the hand-dryer to scorch and tame my frizzy fly-aways. In college I let it grow long and unruly, a metaphorical undoing, a wild mass that, when wet, froze solid in the winter.
By the time I moved out to California for grad school, I'd all but given up on my hair, usually sweeping it back into some kind of functional ponytail or bun. And then I met Jay.
It was all thanks to my Indian friend Manish (who sometimes flew to NYC for a haircut, I kid you not) who offered to bring me along to Di Pietro Todd, a salon he'd found in SF. When I moaned about my thick, wavy hair, Jay looked incredulous.
"You just haven't learned how to embrace your curls!" he said as he sheared and layered. By the time he was finished, a luxurious hour later, I felt like I'd been given a new head of hair. In reality, I'd been given a hair artist.
That was 8 years ago, when we were both 25, both just beginning our west coast lives. For almost a decade now (unbelievable!) we've seen each other grow into our professions and our relationships. He's now so established that he doesn't accept any new clients. Last fall, we got married within a month of each other.
Though he works at a red velvet and champagne salon brimming with privileged people who can't talk enough about "product," Jay affects no pretension whatsoever. He respects the fact that I can only afford to see him twice a year, and gives me cuts designed to grow out well. He remembers details about my life (teaching, traveling, that one dread-headed boyfriend) and knows how much I love seeing the floor fill up with my excess locks. He never tries to sell me $25 conditioner.
I had an appointment this past Wednesday morning, exactly 2 weeks before my due date. I hadn't seen Jay since May, before I was pregnant. He took one look at me and said: "Wow, you could pop at any moment!" and "We must have cut it all off last time you were here!" Both true.
For the next hour we talked about babies, placentas, parenthood, and my thicker-than-ever pregnancy hair while he snipped it into something refreshingly new. He suggested we leave my bangs longer, the easier to pin them back, more mommy-friendly. "And next time you come in," he said, "bring the baby. You can even breastfeed while I cut your hair. I don't mind."