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A Hairy Tale

After getting my brains bashed in 1992, the left side of my injured head has been notorious for growing dead white hair, especially over the injury area. When I had relatively no hair, it was very frustrating because I could not hide it, and I felt like Cruella de Ville.

At 24 years old, I was horrified. I was appalled my hair was short, and I was sickened my hair was white on one side.

Looking back, I should have spiked it and gone wild and pierced a few more things. I was living in L.A., and I would have fit right in. But I was so uptight.

So over the years, I learned how to dye it and disguise it. Not that anyone else would even care, but I cared very deeply. It was a visible reminder of something I did not care to recall.

It took what felt like a lifetime to grow my hair out again. I hated it being short, even though I look back now and think it was cute. It was very long by the time I got married 8 years later.

Right after I married, I was really struggling to balance wedded life (okay, I still am; it has never been natural for me. I prefer to stay up late, read books and write poetry over cooking, cleaning or be whatever makes a wife supportive.) So I tried to cut corners, and I fried my hair with something that was supposed to get rid of gray hair.

It was terrible at the time, but funny as I look back. Now I remember the horror and laugh like it is a sitcom. I cut my hair shorter to get rid of the damage, and attempted once again to grow it out.

My hair was the absolute longest when my brother died last year. And something inside of me died, too. And for some reason, I felt compelled to cut my hair. I think I wanted an external excuse to wear my sorrow because I did not know how to show it otherwise. As if hairstyle can begin to show emotion.

The irony is that age more than injury has caught me now, length be damned. On any given day, I look in the mirror and my hair is spinkled with white like someone powders a baby's behind. I don't go gray; I go albino white. It's pretty in a way. It reminds me of snow glistening in the sun.

I am not ready to surrender yet. I will fight it a bit longer, although I cannot win. I don't mind age; I don't care about getting old; I just want to do it on my schedule. And somehow, the calendar I chose collides with the great schedule in the sky, or wherever it gets its dates.

I will always think age is just a number. But I will always think that, somehow, I was ancient from the very beginning. Honestly, I don't think there is any altering it. And yet I continue to feel more alive every day.
- Mary O. Fumento, 2007

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