The rite of a haircut

My pixie haircut twenty some years ago
“I like it. You look twenty years younger,” my husband says.
             And men say women exaggerate.
             “You haven’t worn you hair that short in almost twenty years.”
             Well, he’s closer to the truth on that one.
             My revived pixie hairdo and I sit at the kitchen’s island with a Sloppy Joe, Mel’s standby for a pound of ground grass-fed beef when I’m not around to cook. I spoon homemade gazpacho on my plate.
He picks up his iPad in the living room while I enjoy my Joe and the first fruits of our vegetable garden. I ponder his observation of my hairstyles the past twenty years, the generation we turned gray together.
I recall the beauty salon, clumps of my fine locks falling to the tile while my beautician clips away with glee. I already miss my little ponytail. Gathering the length of my hair in a band felt like I was nine-years old again.
But who was I kidding? In my case, Mom was right when she said long hair makes some older women look older.
I remember looking up to the mirror and asking my beauty operator, “You’ve been wanting to do this for a long time, haven’t you?”
She smiles big as Texas. “Yeah, since you first mentioned it.”
“That was years ago!”
She snips above my ears. Silver clippings slide off my cape. “You needed time to know this is the right cut for you.”
I subdue winces as her thinning scissors chew wads of six months growth and spit it out. Eleanor knows what she’s doing, I coach myself.
As if reading my mind, she says, “My first job was at Eastland when I was nineteen.”
“At Hudson’s?”
She nods and we both let a mournful sigh to those glorious bygone days of J. L. Hudson’s quality customer service and merchandise—the experience of lunching on Waldorf salad and Sanders Hot Fudge Sundae.

My pixie today

As Eleanor blows dry what hair I have left, her confidence as she fusses with styling my meager bangs, she convinces me she’s right.
We glance to the photos I brought of my younger self in short hair. “There’s no doubt about it. You look much younger,” she says.
Well, I know better, but lifting spirits is what beauticians do, so I embrace it when I take cash from my wallet for a service she provides with skill and joy.
After waiting spring and summer for this improvement to my appearance, I look to what I’ve left behind. My wet, graying strands dry on the floor around Eleanor’s chair, a memorial to patience and hope in my country's most anarchistic and trying times within my seventy-one years.

Dear Reader, as I drive home to dinner, I mark our first generation as senior citizens with this rite of a haircut. I praise God from whom all blessings flow and place the next generation into His loving hands.
And when someone says I look younger, I’m glad Eleanor is much younger than me.