We spend our lives looking for the same person in different bodies. And at the same time, we look for the same body in different people. The first makes some sense, but the second haunts me. The other day I met an uncle’s ex and was puzzled to find that she was almost identical to his current wife. When we say “my kind of woman” or “my kind of man” we are not joking. What is said less is how those tastes have been shaped, what determines what seduces us and will seduce us from that moment on. Could it be that what we love is nothing more than the shadow that we once cast on it, that is, our own trace of love, our reflection in the water, on the void?
Many years after we left, looking at photos on Facebook of my first boyfriend I realized something very strange. At least two of the couples I had followed looked like my 15-year-old self: they were young women, slim, brown, six feet tall, with long straight hair combed sideways. I remembered that that boyfriend of mine was obsessed with my long, shiny black hair. It was what he liked best about me. He liked to comb it and talk about how beautiful it was.
If hair were a political ideology, I would be ultra-conservative. I have been wearing the same natural black for a lifetime, and almost the same invariable hairstyle, straight, long and with a side parting. A hair that is not subject to fashions or seasons or mood swings or divorces, an eternal hair.
I don’t have a hairdresser. Neither bad nor good nor cheap nor expensive nor classic nor modern. For some heads the stylist is better than a therapist; for others he is little less than a guru, but I have only experienced melancholy when I saw my highlights on the floor. I am not the type of woman who dyes herself, combs her hair, cuts herself, wears wigs, shaves, and undergoes radical changes. I’m just the type of woman who was once obsessed with her fringe. I used to pair it with scissors and soak it with Suave Gel every morning before going to school. The stiff, spiky locks on my forehead paid tribute to the crown of Santa Rosa de Lima.
With my hair, what happens to many parts of my body and my personality happened to me: I didn’t like it for a while. I thought I was literally a hair in the soup, especially around the time my mom gave me that damn Richard Clayderman haircut. I hated my hair because it was not docile or fine, rather it fell like a kind of vampire cape on my back. I hated it because my ponytail was thick and the hairs were coming out of my braids. He hated it for its vastness. My problem was having a lot of hair. I did not know that, over the years, this was going to be a kind of luxury.
There are people who hide things behind their hair, usually their face or their intentions. In my adolescence, I assumed the position of emo, that of the stranger with long hair who only cuts her tips, that of the girl from The Incredibles, that of the half face, that one who can become invisible. If not, look at my profile picture for this newspaper. In those days we had my first boyfriend. In addition to the white powder, he was also addicted to the Gentle Gel, but he would put it on all his hair and so we would strut, me with my bangs and he stiff with his slick cut. No one ever loved my hair more than him. It was the Gentle Gel Boy who first put the hair behind my ears. And I never cut it again, so that from then on the princes could climb up to my tower and save me from my other self, that is, from the witch who looked at herself in the mirror with a single question and to whom the mirror always answered. Snow White. One day the mirror finally said my name.
Over the years, while other hairs were filled with gray, lost volume or the dye had finished spoiling them, my hair continued to be the same. I began to hear that she had beautiful hair, horsehair, black, shiny and I began to be the Pantene girl from the neighborhood. My hair began to be harassed and touched without my permission. I asked for respect for him. This hair conservatism paid off and my normalcy finally became a trend. Why change it? How was I going to let a hairdresser into my life?
Likewise, I did not marry the Soft gel but another, the only one that made my hair stand on end and because he quoted EE Cummings: “Your hair is a kingdom whose king is darkness.” For the wedding I was tricked into the hairdresser and married with curlers, which is why there are no more photos of my wedding, because I have burned them all. I quickly returned to who I am: a happy woman without a hairdresser.
Until I saw the photos of the Gentle Gel Boy. It is not very difficult to deduce what he does now: he looked in the mirror with scissors in each hand like Edward and surrounded by hair products. The information on your profile leaves no room for doubt: «Straightening with Keratin. New system for those who want to have straight and healthy hair. One hundred percent cosmetic, eliminates the straw and unruly hair in any weather. Today he is a hairdresser, but not just any hairdresser, one who specializes in straightening. It is so successful that it has already opened several salons in populous Lima, where it does Brazilian, Japanese and American straightening, that I do not know how they differ, in black heads like mine, for which it uses strong chemical products such as keratin, gel, botox . Thus, from combing and combing them so much, she leaves her clients without a single unruly hair.
After quitting drugs, the Gentle Gel Boy, wounded in love by my abandonment, had spent the rest of his life looking for my hair as one looks for the lost Dorado, so much so that he had decided to repopulate the world of women with straight hair, that not a single roller would remain, that all trace of curls would disappear on the face of the earth thanks to its smoothing factory. I finally understood that, despite my immovable hair, there was also a hairdresser in my life. And I thought it was love.