I’m suffering the loss of my long long hair. Sixty days after the impulsively calculated moment with scissors, I am in full regretful mode, in the pain of waiting. I know it is frivolous and self-indulgent to plunge into mourning for long hair that you yourself willingly and willfully cut, but there it is. Suffering is one very long moment. I can’t divide it by seasons. I can only record its moods, and chronicle their return. It feels like time itself does not progress. It revolves. It seems to circle round one center of pain. The paralysing immobility of a life every circumstance of which is regulated after an unchangeable pattern, so that we eat and drink and lie down and pray, or kneel at least for prayer, according to the inflexible laws of an iron formula: this immobile quality, that makes each dreadful day in the very minutest detail like its brother, seems to communicate itself to those external forces the very essence of whose existence is ceaseless change. Friends tell me it looks fine, but there it is and remains: the knifelike remorse I feel every time I pass the mirror. And I find myself counting the days to go by, obsessing over the fractions of inches pushing out of my scalp and measuring it against the days gone by.
Because my hair has been my diary. Like a certain species of girl writers (Sylvia Plath, Anaïs Nin, Uma Thurman in the film Sweet and Lowdown), I’m never entirely sure whether I’m writing down the experiences through which I’m living or I’m actually living through specific experiences so I can have something to write down. That is why, right now, in the prison cell of my bobbed hair, I look back to that night I cut off the long braid of hair and wonder if I needed a reason to look forward to a day 365 or 730 days from October 10, 2010. Some people’s lives are a nicely projected vector: they know the exact temporal and spatial point of their destination, and the arc of that movement is like an aced geometry test. My life has always been a heat-seeking missile: I know where it needs to go, but unfortunately, the target keeps moving so my days keep hurling itself this way and that, getting lost, jagging up its path, knowing nothing but the sole certainty that it’s being pulled by the small but definite heat of a dream in the future.
Using the tiny movement of hair growth as the pages of my diary makes my days feel long and slow. But at least I know my hair is a ceaseless change; its growth is a fact of my body. Two years from now, I’m not sure whether I will have a published book, tenure at my job, or a husband. Waiting and working for those things make me tired, precisely because they are moving targets with vague body heat. But hair growth is inevitable: I just have to sit on my butt and wait. The rate at which the pages of my diary gains heft word by hard-earned word is the same one by which my hair will become heavy enough to pull my head back into its destined posture.
But waiting for the day when my hair can again cover my back is still painful; the viscerality of regret is real. The diary is a way to create my body without the benefit of the mirror: my flesh constructed solely through the puked word-particles of my immediate past. In this same way I will try to dissipate my body: to have a less visual sense of my body while I wait for my hair to catch up with my desires. Less mirror-reliant, and more tactility. A molecular sense of self. A more abstract, yet more material sense of my body: air hitting my stretched out neck; the bounce of a good handbag against the tops of my hips; the red warmth of my eyes when it traps the dust of raccooned black eyeliner; how my titties get excited under a soft old t-shirt; the masochistic crunch of toes squeezed into narrow hard leather loafers.
(This piece contains an interpolation of “De Profundis,” by Oscar Wilde, 1897)