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from a to z: hair

the first time i had long hair was maybe 10th or 11th grade. my parents didn't want me to grow it out, but they're awesome parents who let me find my own path regardless of what they might feel, so i grew it out.

it was then that i started to become particular about my hair - not in how it looked *exactly*, but philosophically and what that meant big picture. it was important that i don't put any product in it because i felt it needed to be free. i loved windy days where it could do whatever it wanted. feeling my hair whip about made me feel like i was flying. The times that i put it back in a ponytail, there was deliberately a small part of my hair that i kept out of it that pretty much covered my right eye as my security blanket.

on top of that, i had a particular thing about people cutting or styling my hair, as in i didn't trust anyone to do it. Part of it was that when i was younger i had a minor traumatic experience with a barber. Another part was just that my long hair was a part of me. my hair was the one part of my physical appearance that i felt defined me the most.

the first year i marched with the crossmen in 1995, there was speculation going around that the staff wanted me to cut my hair short, wanting to have some sort of clean-cut look for the males in the group or something. A few people tried to tell me, "that's bullshit, don't cut your hair," but before anyone on the staff even told me that i had to do it, i ended up doing it. I don't know why i decided to; it just happened. I had my girlfriend cut it, the only person that i trusted to mess with my hair not because she was good at it necessarily, just because she was my girlfriend who i loved dearly.

It took about two years for it to grow to its full length again before it stopped growing. At the end of the summer of 1997, i was thinking about getting it cut short again before going back to school. I was teaching a small division III junior corps at the time, and the bottom bass drummer, a smart black kid named Chris Sharpley, said he was good at cutting hair. I specified that i wanted it cut for a half chin-length/half ear length sort of look because i still wanted the long hair on my right side to act as a security blanket for my face and i liked the idea of trying to find a style in asymmetry. He did a fantastic job and i achieved what i wanted by shocking some people when i went back to west chester.

in 1998 i taught summer drum corps with the glassmen. At some point, my hair started to grow and i was talking with Nick Buddock, a tenor player who was also a classmate of mine at West Chester, about the fact that Chris was the one who knew how to cut my hair and i didn't know how to describe it or trust anyone else with it. My hair still defined me. The half and half look defined me. But i needed someone who could understand it in a way that i couldn't necessarily describe myself. While i was opining about this with Nick, he then offered up his services. Nick had (and still has) the most beautiful eyes that i've ever seen on a man or a woman, he had a particular sense of fashion and style that i knew he paid attention to, and he was (and still is) a damned decent and confident individual, so if he said he knew how to cut my hair the way that i wanted, i was able to trust him. So he cut my hair on tour, and he did a great job, and he became the person i trusted to cut my hair until i moved to the west coast in 1999.

when i moved to the west coast, i ended up having a flirty and flingy thing that mutated into a solid friendship with Erica. She's one of those people who i can go for years without talking to and yet i know pretty much completely understands me and vice versa, so when she told me she had some skills in hair cutting, she became the one person on the west coast that i trusted to not only cut my hair, but to also open me up to the idea of experimenting with it, if ever so slightly. When she moved from Oregon to Ohio, my hair started to grow long only by default - because she wasn't around to cut my hair anymore and i was damned if i was going to let someone else try it. There were a few times when she visited me in Oregon and in New Orleans that she cut my hair. When i visited her in Ohio in the summer of 2011, she cut my hair after it had grown to a long length, and i had pictures taken so that i could use it for reference to give to a hairdresser because at that time - after years of going back and forth between long and short, partially due how infrequently i saw her and/or Nick - i decided that i was never going to be a long haired person again and i needed to find a hairdresser that i could trust with my hair and relax some of my vigilance about it.

Things got super busy for me this summer and my hair started to get to an awkward length that i wanted to get cut, and then sometime in late august of this year, i started debating whether or not i should grow my hair out again. I put a poll out on facebook and g+ about it and also asked some close friends and acquaintances their opinion, which says something about how my attitude about it has changed since prior to this i would have never let that decision be influenced by other people's opinions about it.

And at some point in the middle of september, i decided that i was going to let it grow out. Not necessarily because i feel like a long haired person again, but because it still feels enough a part of me that growing it out doesn't feel like a false representation of me. Then, as soon as it hits that peak length and people are used to the idea of me being long-haired again, i'm going to chop it all off. I imagine it will take a couple of years for it to hit that length again and for people to not truly remember what it was like for me to have short hair. And i'll shock my system and shock others when it happens.

Because really that's what it's about. never settling, never feeling satisfied with what i'm used to, always finding ways to change my perspective.

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March 2017