I had an “interesting” conversation with my father yesterday. Since I left my job in October, he’s become the unofficial manager of my multi-hyphenated career, a self-appointed role he took on after he retired. I enjoy his insight and our light-hearted daily talks as I remember a time where there was a great chasm between us. But over the years, we settled into a very adult-like agreement to disagree, even if I’m honest, we’ve been walking on clichéd eggshells trying to avoid each other’s minefields.
We were doing so well until, an act of seeming betrayal to all we’d rebuilt, he re-declared our war. “It’s your hair that’s holding you back,” he told me yesterday. This was a fact, not an opinion. “You won’t go where you want to go with hair like that.”
Me: Blink. Blink. “What?!”
The “that” he refers to is the tangled fluffy faux-‘fro I weaved in last month. After three years with a perm, I confidently shaved my head (and dyed it platinum blonde) in September to start anew. I did it the weekend I made the final decision to resign from my job and strike out on my own and I lovingly referred to my new look as my “Freedom ‘Fro.” I loved it. He didn’t like it, of that I was sure. But he didn’t have anything nice to say, so he didn’t comment. I respected and appreciated his silence.
By February it had grown significantly and reached a length I found unflattering to my face. Straightening it wasn’t an option for me, neither was braiding it or cutting it. So I went online in search of a batch of hair close-enough to the texture that grows out of my head and added that, since it was the look I was eventually going for anyway. For me, it solved a dilemma. For him, it was the re-emergence of an old issue, one for which he could no longer hold his tongue.
In our most recent conversation, he referred to my high school graduation photo, the one he carries in his wallet, as my best look, the one I should return to. He seems to have selective amnesia about telling me how that cut broke his heart.
“Why would you cut off all your beautiful hair?” he asked then, near tears.
I didn’t get it. It’s hair. It grows back. And if it doesn’t, I could always weave it up.