bush-hog to god

October 10th, 2016 § 0 comments

There was a time when I needed to shave my head.

The end of October, standing on four years sober. I was broken & leaking & open. It rained. Damp porches, the daylight a closing door. Everything in calendar: days since I moved, days since we ended, days until winter, days sober, days since my last, since my last.

I had the razor already, sheathed, waiting for impulse to strike. A party was being prepared, elsewhere in the house. And then the first kiss: the guzzling blade to hair to scalp. I chose the crown of my head to start with, which is to say I chose to not turn back. Whole calendars lifted & relinquished into the sink. My history. My hair. Burn it down. Raze it to the ground.

To talk about hair is to talk about race, is to talk about gender, is to talk about expectation, assumption & oppression.

For me, to talk about hair is to talk about the little war I’ve been fighting every day for as long as I can remember. All hair, everywhere. Calendars marked by hair. Laser appointments, haircuts, waxing, all Sunday spent in the salon chair, painting chemicals onto my head, straightening a few finger-gathered strands at a time. Days, hours, cm, mm. Darkness, thickness, visibility.

It’s to talk of hormones and femininity and sexuality.

The parasitic wasp, these notions of beauty. So deeply seeded you don’t recognize it as foreign, as not mine. Until you are tearing at your body trying to destroy it from the outside in, while it expands, occupying more, claiming more. Hair: leaves me feeling too repulsive to live with, or to look at. At which point it feels very much like mine, & “it” being what exactly?

They say god hid itself inside of each of us, waiting for us to arrive at a divine moment of self-recognition. I think it must be even further down, beneath all of this other crap. Most of us never get down that deep.

A shaved head is a swung needle, pitched right or left, all of the way: the extremes of spirituality, of bigotry, of illness, of war. It’s to lay bare identity. To uncover, to unframe. I unframed all of the things I thought about myself, pictured confidence first, hoping my mind would follow.

Act as if, they say.

A shaved head, my bush-hog for god.

People believed me, I think. I believed me. And it was true in that regard. It is a mainline to self-love and self-acceptance, this hyper-visibility, real or perceived.

& then the regard of others: Men stopped me on the street and told me I was beautiful (reluctantly flattered; unwillingly welcomed); older women admired (so bold!) and peers praised (badass). I swung on this attention: hooked myself to it, pulled up and up, for a time.

“Are you a boy?” a child asked me. I hesitated, not-sure, suddenly, once again, non-neutral.

& yet the people I was attracted to (who might also be asked if they were boys) seemed further away, my appearance unarticulating my insides: the fluid movement of self from room to room: butch & femme & strength & grace. (Here’s where I want to say “or.” Here’s where I resist intersection.)

Who did I do this for? I asked myself.
Who am I doing this for?

There’s hair and then there’s hair. There’s the glamorized and there’s the war. How good it would feel how free to let it go. To toss the arsenal: tweezers, razors, waxers, lasers, clippers, bleachers, relaxers. When I talk about hair, I talk about both kinds, and they are the same, they are both pain.

I stand on one side: the exhausted I wish this weren’t a thing side, the taming, the fighting back.

Some divide, I see another: one of expression, of making personal, of fighting for, taking back notions of beauty, of worth. Reclamation. The only reference point I have, some keyhole to the other side: the first time we had sex, the hundredth, and every time was different, every time felt like an opening, a shrugging off a lead blanket: the lie we had been told: that we had just one way of fitting together. Sex with you felt like liberation. Felt like coming home. Reclamation.

With this, with hair, I know I’m being sold a lie. I know it and that knowledge does nothing for me. When I talk about my hair, I talk about growing it back, blending back, passing. I recognize the choice. & if I choose nothing?

A shaved head was once a forest fire. A fertile void.

It’s October again. Almost five years since my last, since my last. I suppose I call this place home now. The treeline diminishes. My hair like bristle: the razor, sheathed.

This is the way I know to let time take time.



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