By Emma K. Shibley, For The Miami Student
Christian Corpora has always dreaded haircuts.
At least, he has since high school at Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy. It’s a private school, complete with a dress code. When Christian was there, his hair was allowed to cover no more than three-quarters of his ear and had to stop half an inch above his collar.
When he came to Miami, he started growing his hair long past his ears, his collar and his shoulders, getting semiannual trims to keep healthy ends. His man bun grew thicker. He was mistaken for a woman in campus bathrooms and Starbucks lines.
On the morning of Saturday, March 19, he went to see his hometown hairstylist, Ronnie Jo, for a cut. In case it turned out badly, he knew he had the whole week of spring break to grow it out again.
“Why not now?” he said. “People change things over breaks. I’ve never gotten a haircut in Oxford before.”
He was simply getting tired of the length. I caught him not once, but twice, staring fixedly at my own hair — tangles of coffee and brown sugar all the way down my back — with more than a hint of projected loathing.
And Christian wasn’t the only restless one. On Wednesday, March 23, Elaine Gossard arrived at Sam Wanna Salon in her hometown of Medina, Ohio for her 11:30 a.m. appointment. Gina Metzger has been Elaine’s hairdresser for five years. Elaine came in seeking just a trim, but Gina hesitated, looking at Elaine in the mirror.
“I feel like we do the same thing over and over.”
“Yeah, you’re probably right, I —”
“Do you trust me?”
When I saw her shorter hair in class on Tuesday, I reacted with the same thing she’d been hearing since returning to Oxford.
“Oh, your hair!”
I paused and remembered Christian.
“Man,” I said, “It seems like everyone got their hair cut over spring break.”
Malory, who sits between me and Elaine, shrugged.
“I mean, people go home …”
And, as we’ve seen, the rest is history.
In early March, I, too, sat on a black swivel chair, a pair of shears poised over the last centimeter of a section of hair from above my left ear. But I was not with Gina or Ronnie Jo.
I was alone in my dorm room, my legs crossed at the ankle and feet propped on the edge of my desk. The window was open for
the mild March air.
The same season in which Miami’s trees and lawns regrow their green coats, we students shed ours. It could be for an updated look, an easier routine or even in anticipation of summer’s heat. Many of us jaunt home for spring break, testing an image on the home crowd before revealing it to our peers on campus.
Not all of us have the guts, though. Like Elaine and her half-a-decade hairdresser, my split ends and I have been through a lot together. And like Christian I talked up getting a drastic hair change over the break. But, my last trim took place more than 20 months ago.
Since then, my hair has endured curling irons, snarls, teasing and a blonde ombre. It’s survived 10 unwashed days in the woods of Minnesota, hundreds of hours in a hair-sprayed sock bun for marching band competitions and — ask anyone — endless compulsive twirling.
If someone were to do a semiotic reading of me based on my hair, what would all its broken limbs signify? Turmoil? Chaos? A rushed morning routine? What if the forks and branches of my fraying strands are nascent roots, reaching out for soil in which to colonize a new sort of plant? Who are we to call dandelions weeds instead of daisies? Wouldn’t a rose by any other name take just as long to detangle in the shower?
Or what if, at the end of the day, they’re nothing more than split ends?
As soon as Ronnie Jo cut Christian’s ponytail, Christian looked in the mirror and felt it had been a mistake.
“I look like Julia Louis-Dreyfus,” he said.
Ronnie Jo started to laugh, but Christian wasn’t trying to be funny.
“We’ll get you looking like a man again,” she assured him.
Christian says he’d agree, if by “a man” she meant a Revolutionary War minuteman or a composer of Shakespearean sonnets.
A sliver of the hair he lost is in his room, in a tiny bag he’s going to keep forever. Another is in an envelope addressed to a friend who wanted him to send her some.
The rest is still tied in a ponytail in a bag at home in Cleveland. It’s waiting for him to purchase an envelope so he can send it off to Pantene Beautiful Lengths, a hair donation program partnered with the American Cancer Society Wig Bank, where it’s been destined to head all along.
Elaine’s shorn locks, like many others, are gone — swept promptly into a dustbin as she played with her new sandy bob.
And with my own broken hair I sit, scissors in hand, poised for a painless, even healing trim. But the blades never get the courage to move. The window is open, the air is cool and the birds beyond
I put the scissors down. I feel light.