Mr C strokes my head.
“Does it feel weird?” I ask.
“It feels beautiful.” he says, and then as if to drive home the point he kisses it repeatedly.
“Is it like kissing stubble?” I ask.
“It is like kissing you,” he replies.
18 months have passed since I decided to shave off my hair and finally wear a wig.
It has been a learning curve.
It hasn’t been easy. I’m still getting used to having so much hair – washing it, drying it, styling it – but my confidence has improved when I am out and that has been a gift.
Yet, when I am at home, at the end of the day, when, like the desperate need to remove your bra, I desperately need to remove my wig, for my scalp to breath, to feel free, I feel a certain kind of sadness.
I often wonder if this is how amputees feel. Do they continue to mourn the loss of of their limbs? Not letting it consume them, but still catching themselves miss it from time to time. Missing the normality that having everything you were born with gives you.
I miss it very much.
Not during the day. During the day I feel “normal”. My muscle memory forgets that I am wearing a wig. The periodic itches I get beneath my silicone cap are easily and swiftly dealt with and have become a part of my daily experience. I hardly notice it at all. And other people certainly don’t notice it. They don’t even know it’s there.
But at night, as I lift it off my head, like an illusion being unmasked, I am faced with my own reality.
I have no hair.
I am a woman and I am bald.
Of course, I choose to be completely bald for I had 30% of my own hair that did not fall out. In a way, I wished it would just completely fall out. Then, I wouldn’t be faced with the daily ritual of shaving, the 5 o’clock shadow, the stubble.
And yet, despite this loss, I also feel a sense of release.
I no longer loathe my hair, all patchy, thin and limp. It was empowering to make that decision to remove it, to finally make that stand, to embrace the inevitability I was trying to avoid. I would no longer be faced with trying to comb my hair one way to try to make it look less thin, less patchy, less bald. I would no longer be faced with unsolicited advice on how to cure my hair loss.
And I quite like my scalp. It is an area that most of us never get to see, and yet I now know it intimately. As I run my hand over my bald head, I have become quite familiar with all of its lumps and bumps, its nuances. I particularly like doing this after I have shaved, when it is smooth and truly bare. It’s an intimacy I feel privileged to have.
As I sit here it is warm, my wig is lying next to me and I can feel a cool breeze on my scalp. It is an experience I feel lucky and sad to have all at the same time.
My wig has become a part of me.
I no longer look at it and imagine it adorning someone else’s head. I no longer wear it and feel like it isn’t me. I wear it and know it is me. I wear it and feel normal.
Normality is an illusion, yes, but it is also adaptable.
I am bald, that is my reality, but I wear a wig and that is my new normality. I have adapted. I still mourn, but by and large, I have forged a new normal.
And it feels good.