Where the light enters

finding meaning in mortality

Tag: Hair with Care

Pretty woman to the rescue!

Yesterday at lunch I returned to Hair with Care to have the final (at least for now) touches put on my customized wig.  I can’t begin to say what a difference there is between the customized version and the original.  Jennifer has done such an amazing job with it!  The first time I tried the wig on, it looked like an animal of some kind was attacking my head.  But now it looks uncannily close to my real hair (which might still look like an animal attacking my head, but at least it’s an animal that I’m accustomed to).

Jennifer makes a few little trims here and there, shaping it to my face perfectly.   We discuss putting bangs in it (I cut myself bangs several months ago in a fit of boredom), but I decide to live with it for a while before going down that road.  Because face it, it’s not going to grow back; if you don’t like it after you cut it, you’re stuck with it.  Besides, it’s cute just the way it is, and Jennifer has even trained the hair to sit off of my face the way I like it.

She shows me how to care for it, how to spritz it with water at night, and place it on a foam mannequin head with t-pins to hold it and shape it the way I want it.   She shows me how to put the headband on which helps hold the wig in place.  How to put the wig on, and center the ear tabs just over each ear to ensure that it’s sitting correctly on my head.  How to brush it and tease the little “baby hairs” at the forehead.

It may need further tweaks after my hair falls out, but for now, she’s perfect.  And yes, it is a she.  Jennifer says everyone names her wig; what am I going to name mine?  What’s the model name of the wig?, I ask.  She says, It’s called Pretty Woman.  So I guess I’ll call her Julia, I say.  Jennifer laughs, puts Julia pinned to her mannequin head in a tote bag for me with all her accessories, and I head back to work.

Even though it’s September, it’s still steaming hot in Atlanta, so I’m scared to leave her in the car.  She’s real hair, so I don’t think it’ll hurt her, but I feel better taking her with me.  Julia’s foam head has a super-long neck, so her scalp is sticking up over the top of the bag a bit.  As I get on the elevator, I realize that it quite possibly looks as though I’m carrying a severed head in my tote bag.  I don’t worry too much about it; stranger things have happened at some of my workplaces.

Julia’s quite a hit back in the office.  Everyone wants to see her and touch her.  Our CFO is fascinated by her.  He keeps saying, It feels like real hair.  I keep saying, It is real hair.   Another friend plays with her for a while before putting her back in the bag, saying, Well, I’ll get out of your hair now.  We both crack up.

Going home that night, I put Julia in the passenger seat.  I mean, where else is she supposed to ride?  So Julia rides shotgun, and we head home.  At one point, I have to hit the brakes a little hard, and Julia plunges head-first (or maybe scalp-first since she’s only a head?) into the floorboard.  I scream, Julia!! Noooooo!!  My three thousand dollar wig is upside-down in my cheeto-dust infested floorboard.  It’s a frightening moment.

When we pull in the driveway twenty minutes later, I’m finally able to rescue her from the grunge pit.  She’s fine, not a single cheeto in her hair.  Julia is one tough cookie.  I take her inside and give her a home on my dresser.  There she sits, looking lovely, ready to spring into action if I should need her.  And I will most likely need her soon.  Today was chemo infusion number two.  Normally this is when patients start to notice drastic hair loss.

To get myself ready for this, I took a pair of scissors last night and whittled my hair down to a short ‘do.  I’m thinking “baby steps.”  Let’s just get used to it being much shorter before I have to get used to being completely bald.  I haven’t had short hair since the 8th grade, so this is quite a change.  But I find it fun, and sitting in the sauna this afternoon without hair stuck to my neck was quite nice.  I even got a few compliments on it today, so I guess it can’t be that bad.  And if the thought of whacking your hair off with scissors makes you shudder, don’t worry; curly hair is very forgiving.  If my hair had been straight, I would have left the whacking to a professional (And of course, by that I don’t mean the godfather, but a hair stylist).

I imagine, at most, I’ll have the whack-job for a week.  Then Julia will get to step in and do what she was meant to do in life, her raison d’être, i.e. giving me a semblance of normality in a time that’s suffused with the abnormal.   We’ll hit the town and see if anyone notices that she’s just along for the ride.  I’m not sure if I can take her out without humming that song to myself though.  I don’t believe you, you’re not the truth/ No one could look as good as you.  Hopefully, no one will guess that she’s not “the truth.”  But I have to say, the second line sums her up perfectly.

Wiggin’ Out

I feel like I just bought a new car.  That “I just paid a lot of money for something that I’m going to have to live with for a while, so I hope I made the right decision” kind of feeling.  Only this purchase doesn’t come with that new-car smell (or at least I hope it doesn’t).

I just picked out a wig.  Because in a very short period of time, my hair is going to start falling out in clumps (or so they assure me).  My boss told me to pick something fun, like maybe a pink mohawk.  I don’t think a mohawk is really my style, but I did have pink hair in the tenth grade, so I thought about it.  But in order to not look freakish at Thanksgiving, or on my new driver’s license when I renew it in a few months, I figured I need to have a hairpiece that kinda sorta maybe looks like it could be me in some alternate universe.

Jennifer Green at Hair with Care in Atlanta has helped me realize this goal.  Or I should say is helping me to realize this goal, since buying a wig is quite a process.  Choosing a wig is only the beginning of a long road of customization, fitting, cutting, styling, and possibly coloring that goes on.

Selecting a wig was a lot harder than I thought it would be.  Evidently fine, curly hair is not much in demand in the wig business.  I guess no one wants to pay good money to look like a limp poodle.  But fine, curly hair is what I have, so finding a good match has been difficult.  Add to that equation a small head and face, and you can see that Jennifer has her work cut out for her.

But it hasn’t deterred her.  After my first visit, she tracked down some good candidates.  So today I returned to her shop to try them on for size.  Some were definitely too poofy for my small face.  Some were too dark.  Some were too straight.  Some were too wiggy.  One even looked like a “giraffe” (Jennifer’s words).  But from these, we were able to narrow it down to one that with a bit of customization (the hair needs to be thinned, for starters), should suit me.

I never realized how much work goes into a wig.  Or how many different types there are.  There are synthetic wigs and wigs made from real human hair.  There are some wigs that are sensitive to hot temperatures, so you have to be careful to keep them away from heat; even opening a hot dishwasher while wearing it could fry it.

The best choice for me seemed to be a real human hair wig made with “European” hair.  It feels and looks much more natural than the synthetic ones I tried on the first visit.  The wigs made from human hair are of course more expensive.  Also blonde hair is more expensive than other colors, so my wig is coming with a hefty price tag.

Even though I only plan on wearing my wig on special occasions (and wearing turbans, scarves, and caps on most days), I thought it was worth it to spring for the real hair version.  I think if I had settled for the synthetic one, I would have had regrets.

So now that I’ve selected a wig, the next step is to tailor it to my head.  Jennifer is working on making the cap smaller, and removing some of the hair from it so that my small face isn’t completely overwhelmed.  Then we will likely cut it and style it to suit me even better.  And once my natural hair starts to “release,” as they say, the wig may need to be altered slightly again.

I know that nothing is going to be perfect; after all, my real head of hair isn’t perfect (I think I had a short stint of hair perfection in my twenties), so why should a fake head of hair be any different?  But hopefully it will represent me to the world with enough conviction until my own hair (for better or worse) can reclaim its natural place.