"Okay, here we go," said Almog as he stood in his intimate SoHo salon sawing through the thick ponytail of hair that was gathered at the nape of my neck. I thought it would come off with one snip - it didn't. It took well over 20 cuts; plenty of time for me to contemplate what I'd done. Had the hair come off quickly - like ripping off a bandage - the experience may not have had as deep an impact. But, as I sat and listened to the scissors slicing through my hair I felt a little choked up.
Gentle and caring, Almog asked if I was okay as eight years of hair was being severed from body.
Women have been known to cry in the chair. Some have sprinted from salons with only one side of their hair cut. Others have sobbed for days after going from long to short. I always thought I'd never be that girl; but I was beginning to get emotional. I bit the inside of my cheek but still I could feel the tears start to build up in the corners of my eyes.
I thought to myself: that hair hung on my shoulders at graduation, it was there when I bought my first apartment, it got speckled with paint when I remodeled. It held proud curls as I walked down the aisle to be married. It was at this moment that my eight-year love/hate relationship with my long hair turned into adoration. I didn't think of the torture I put it though - blasting it with hot air, ironing it, curling it, coloring it. I didn't think of all of the hot summer days when I cursed it for sticking to my neck, or the cold winter days when it blew across my face. I only thought of the good times - which, I hear is what happens when you say goodbye to something you love. Snip, snip, snip...
Almog raised my ponytail in the air like a gladiator holding up a severed head. It was my severed head. He handed it to me and I was surprised at how heavy 8 inches of hair could be. I was left with a bob that, to me resembled the mop-cut that that Lloyd donned in Dumb and Dumber. In silence, my eyes began to water. And then, Almog really went to work.
As I sat there glassy-eyed, Almog shaped what was left of my hair into a masterpiece. I couldn't take my eyes off of the mirror, I couldn't stop smiling - I looked like an idiot grinning under a blanket of hair as he carved out the length of my bangs. I gazed into the mirror, mesmerized as he sculpted and shaped, cut each blade of hair with such precision and care.
When he was finished I felt like a new woman. The cut was chic, but more important was how it made me feel - brave, courageous, and vigorous. I wanted to hit the streets, take my new hair out for some drinks, maybe dancing. I wanted to go home and show my husband. I wanted to tell my mom.
How did I go from sweaty-palmed - to teary eyed - to brave and bold? Can hair really do that to a person?
For many women, our hair is part of our personalities. New cuts open doors to new styles and sometimes new insights about ourselves and our abilities.
Two weeks into my freshman year at NYU I lopped off 12 inches of my hair in an attempt to create a cooler New York version of myself. I was happy to massage one personality into another with the help of a new haircut. In retrospect I really didn't - the new haircut just gave me some extra confidence. I've lived in NY for 11 years now - and I'm no harder or cooler than I was when I first stepped foot on the island. I am however, completely content. So why the big change now? This time it wasn't precipitated by anything other than a photo I stumbled upon.
Three days ago, while scrolling a celebrity image site for new ideas for marieclaire.com, I came across a picture of Katie Holmes. Actually, I came across a lot of pictures of Katie Holmes - I, like many others out there had unconsciously been tracking what the gossip blogs were reporting on - Tom, Suri, the Beckham BFFs, the hair, the diet, the fashion. I really don't pay too much attention to this but this one photo - of a new haircut caught my eye. It was glamorous, chic and mature in a way that didn't make her look old and I decided then I had to have it.
Now, a month after the cut I'm still loving it. Many people still don't recognize me, so my days are peppered with double takes from co-workers, doormen, even my Dad! Will I grow the long hair back again? Time will tell.
I do occasionally miss my long hair - but I'll always have the memories. And, since I donated it to Locks for Love (an organization that makes wigs for children with cancer) - someone else can take my hair - well, their hair - for a ride. Those 8 inches of hair may not be with me at the next milestone in my life, but maybe it'll be with someone else at theirs.
Want a cut like mine? Go see Almog!
25 Thompson Street
New York, NY 10013