Ruth Rosengarten Preface: My Hair An early lesson in loss and remorse. I’m 13. Everybody praises my lengthy, auburn hair. However fashions in magazines sport liberated pixie cuts. It’s the 1960s. “You’d look beauFful along with your hair quick like that,” my mom says. “You could have such a preJy face.” Over a brief interval, she says this many Fmes.
The preJy face appears to be in opposiFon to one thing else that I don’t have, however I don’t fairly know what that’s. I scour the few magazines now we have at house. The fashions are doe-eyed. I hanker for his or her angular, whimsical loveliness, the crisp geometry of their quick clothes, the boys they absolutely aJract. I take up my mom’s suggesFon. I must consider her. By which I imply, I must consider that she is aware of one thing about quick hair; that her urgings should not egocentric, not private. I must consider that she will not be prompted by a want to be freed from the each day ritual of the varsity plait, nor pushed by an inchoate emoFon.
I take a look at her hair, made lustreless by straightening and hair spray, ruined by a longing to change the curly course of nature. It’s a longing I’ll inherit. However I’ll kind the phrase “jealousy” later; maybe years later. In the intervening time, I go together with the concept of the haircut, regardless of the final minute hesitaFon I see within the hairdresser’s mirror. I’m going through this mirror full on, and a inexperienced salon cape is draped round my shoulders. Tears emboss my cheeks. SFll, I’ve an impulse that 2 I now recognise as absolutely, characterisFcally, mine. “Don’t minimize it in bits,” I say, “ minimize off the entire factor.” Lop off the horse tail so I can preserve it, is what I imply. So I can preserve it.
Now barely maJed, the hair is wrapped within the acid free Fssue paper I exploit to separate drawings. It’s as useless as a relic, but sFll it has a wild, bizarre electrical energy that jogs my memory of its connecFon to a residing physique. My physique. For forty years aYer that haircut grew out, I remained feFshisFcally certain to my head of lengthy, burnished curls, the primary descriptor I’ll ever use when portraying myself. My inFmate calling card. Then menopause will train me the unsure pleasures of leZng go of bodily beliefs, aJachments; ageing will train me of the fun of dropping a set tag and gaining changeable hair.
And an ongoing rela Fonship with a hairdresser. However I’m geZng forward of myself. What I need to take into consideration now’s the twisted rope in Fssue paper, beribboned at both finish, safeguarded for many years, by means of three emigraFons and lots of extra home strikes. Why? What will get saved? What will get thrown away? I recognise, in that early impulse to protect the severed pony tail, a fascinaFon I shall all the time nurture with remnants and traces.
I leYovers, roadkill, footprints, beds which have been slept in. Tracks, proof. Such traces are snapshots. They each repair Fme and function reminders of what has been misplaced. If I’d been a mom, like arFst Mary Kelly, I’d have made an archive of my youngster’s nail parings, the positive curls of the primary haircut, traces of milk and poo, treasured scribbles. With out youngsters, it’s my personal physique, my very own life, that has grow to be the supply of such longing and loss, preservaFon and launch.
I’m consumed by the want to doc the traces of my very own life; or fairly, to doc my life by means of its traces. We preserve some issues, we discard others. It happens to me that, like taking images, wriFng is perhaps a technique of conserving issues. That wriFng about issues would possibly allow me to detach myself from these very issues bodily, materially. I lengthy to realize a whiJling down, an existenFal minimalism, disburdening myself for the following stage. Making the job simpler for individuals who’ll have, sooner or later, to wash up aYer me. But I must know I haven’t misplaced these objects that comprise my historical past, my tales. That’s however one step away from telling my tales by means of these objects.