‘I thought you were growing your hair long’ laughs our nanny as she walks through the front door and spies my hair.
‘I was…. I am…’ I run my hand through the centimetre of hair I have left, ‘It’s just that I’ve had this bee in my bonnet about a pixie cut, and if I don’t do it now I’ll grow my hair to my shoulders, then get irritated with it because it’s at an awkward length and it’s taking too long and then I’ll cut it all off again. I figure if I get it over and done with now, then I can let it go.’ I’m really very complicated, I think as the words pour awkwardly from my mouth.
I’d like to be simple, to ease through life, steady, reliable, consistent. Instead, I’m up and down like a yoyo. I’m growing my hair long, I’m cutting it short. I’m a writer. Yes. I’m writing a novel. Also, I’m writing a picture book. And, actually, now I’m writing a chapter book for kids. I’ve also written a ten-minute play, and now, well now it’s time to focus once again on the novel.
‘I’m starting a blog,’ I tell my husband.
‘Good,’ he says, ‘I think you should.’
‘I think I’ll start a blog,’ I say again, a month later.
‘Do you think I should start a blog?’ I ask him a few weeks after that.
He doesn’t answer. I’m irritated, but not surprised.
A month later, I’ve started two blogs and am possibly collaborating on a third. There’s an all or nothing thing about me. It bugs me, but I can’t seem to find the balance. I took up salsa dancing in my 20’s. Some weeks I couldn’t be bothered and I would miss classes for a month. Other weeks, I was so obsessed, I danced three nights a week until I could no longer stand.
Sometimes I think I force myself to do things, just to chase the fear into the dark recesses, to prove to myself that I will not be beaten by it. Eventually, though the effort exhausts me, and I collapse in a heap of fear and self-loathing as I watch too much bad tv and eat an entire block of chocolate (or maybe two, but ssh!).
I went skydiving once. It was the most terrifying thing I’d forced myself to do up until that point. I didn’t really want to jump. I remember that clearly, but I forced myself to. As if it would prove something. When the door was pulled open and the woman I was strapped to inched us closer to it, I decided I’d changed my mind. Unfortunately, she didn’t hear me over the raging wing. There’s a reason they ask you to tilt your head back and stare at the sky above you before you jump, because if you’re anything like me, when you look down at the patchwork quilt of earth just waiting to smash you to smithereens, you’ll never jump. I didn’t realise until about halfway into the free fall when it occurred to me that I had not only stopped breathing but that I couldn’t actually recall how to get started again. ‘Scream,’ the young, long dark-haired instructor with the fluoro stars stitched onto her gear told me, as we boarded the plane. ‘If you find it hard to breathe out, just scream,’
‘Scream,’ the young, long dark-haired instructor with the fluoro stars stitched onto her gear had told me, as we boarded the plane. ‘If you find it hard to breathe out, just scream,’
So I screamed. As if I were being murdered.
‘You’ve got some lungs on you,’ she said as the parachute opened, and the world became eerily quiet. I’d have felt embarrassed if I wasn’t just thrilled to still be alive. A friend of mine had also jumped, and when I caught up with her on the ground, she was jubilant. I’d wished I was jubilant.
Terror, has been my constant companion for so long, I don’t really know what life is without it. I wish it had made me more comfortable with its existence, but mostly I just throw myself into awful situations as a way of ‘facing’ the terror rather than running from it.
So when I rang the hairdressing salon to book an appointment for a pixie cut, and the woman suggested I come in that afternoon, my stomach jumped into my throat as if I was jumping out of that stupid plane all over again.
‘Okay,’ I said weakly, not really sure now that I wanted to cut all of my hair off, but still unable to let go of the idea. So, I got on my bike and cycled across town and let a strange man I didn’t know cut all of my hair off.
Do I love it? I’m not entirely sure, but it’s done now and I feel relieved.
‘You look like Grandma,’ says my eldest when I finally take the beanie off my head the next day.
‘Thank you, darling.’
‘You look like Papa,’ says my youngest, touching my hair.
‘Do you think so?’
She nods. ‘You look like a boy.’
‘You’ve got the face for it,’ I hear over and over again. So I suspect I’m not the only one who is not entirely sure if they like it.