better my hair than my arms
by ella.
this is my latest exploit. as i watch murky water, tinged a purplish brown, spiral down the drain, i wonder when my hair is going to fall out. the first time i did this, it was a matter of whether or not the hair would fall out at all. however, taking into account my personal record, that is not a matter of debate anymore. due to my strange coping mechanism, i think to myself, i will no doubt be bald by the time i'm fifty—maybe even forty. and, i continue, as the drain continues to gurgle and the water begins to slowly clear, we're not talking thinning hair or semi-quasi bald like stereotypical used car dealers and sinead o'connor. oh no, we're talking a hardcore type of bald—a yule brenner bald. a daddy warbucks kind of bald.
my coping mechanism has lead me to this train of thought and to the creation of a small stash of money i keep in an old purse for the sole purpose of buying rogaine when i get older.
all of this—the train of thought, the rogain trust fund, the strange coping strategy—it's all because of a well-timed viewing of the movie elizabeth, in which the virgin queen slowly but surely hews her fiery braids off for the good of england and reinvents herself. there was something about cate blanchet, tearstained, standing in her night gown, hair hacked at, looking much like what i would imagine joan of arc looked like before they lead her to martyrdom. prior to this pivotal screening, i had dyed, snipped, and bleached my hair before. this time, however, it would be metaphorical. symbolic. later that week, i took the pressure of my approaching departure for college, my deteriorating friendships, my best friend turned ex, my fifteen year old girlfriend whom i had just cheated on, the pressure on the familiy, the unavoidable trip to the dentist that was fast approaching...i took all of it head on, glaring in the mirror with my mother's most menacing pair of scissors and an eight ounce bottle of manic panic's ultraviolet. a messy sink, a bathroom floor strewn with random hair snippets, and an hour and a half later, i emerged triumphant. tearstained. staring at myself from beneath uneven bangs like elizabeth as she's about to announce “i have become a virgin”.
from that moment on, coping changed. it would no longer be like in movies. no nights brimming with tubs of ben and jerry's cherry garcia. no blowing a week's paycheck to buy shite i'd never need except in that single moment when i hand over my credit card to the cashier. no long, thoughtful drives through desolate streets with the street lamps glinting on the windshield in perfect sucession. no doodling with razor blades on my arms, anesthetizing the pain with sylvia plath-type metaphors running through my head...well, at least, not any more. no, coping became something completely different.
now, it's the sound of running water and the smell of ammonia. stained towels and murky white bottles and jars filled with opalescent gels, liquids, and creams—the color of anger. the color of pain. the color of hope. and all under 12 dollars. it's the snip snip snip of scissor blades and the rough sound of my bangs getting shorter. chunks of hair sitting in the sink like shards of colored glass—fire hydrant red, bleached orange, and a fading sense of blue. it's the hour and fifteen minutes worth of itch that my scalp endures under aluminum foil, while i try to ignore the bleach by watching television, but there always happens to be nothing on. it's a set of bette page bangs. it's the scent of remoisturing conditioner that loreal supplies in order to make amends to your hair for all the damage they just caused. it's five easy steps, complete with illustrations and cheap plastic gloves that always remind me of the flimsy sandwich bags my mother would use to pack my lunch when i was eight. it's drip stains on the tile floor that never come out unless you use toothpaste and a ring around the sides of the tub the color of runoff. it's shower walls smeared pink and indigo as if some muppet had played a game of psycho there. it's the sound of an electric razor buzzing against my skull.
it is all of this. all of this in the hopes that, when look up from the sink or shift my focus from my bangs, i will be greeted with the reflection of someone else—inside and out. a chance meeting with someone new in the mirror.
my latest reincarnation is still growing out from the last time i shaved my head. only this time, my bangs are short their stick practically straight up. this time, my hair is darker than its ever been—pitch black—shade #000.
ella, revisited. only this time, i'll get it right.
Literature Section

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