On European Haircuts

This is what I looked like this morning: 

Long Hair Chelsea

"Wow!" You might be saying to yourself, "Chelsea's hair is long! I've never even seen it that long! What remarkable self control!"

Friends, let me tell you a story. 

Almost exactly two years ago, Jacob and I were in Romania during our 6-month European adventure. We had been on the road for over 3 months, and my hair was in serious need of help. The color had faded to a brassy orange hue and the cut was growing out as an overly thick helmet. Never one to be terribly careful with my hair, I took matters in to my own hands. 

Jacob and I went to the store and purchased the cheapest box of brown dye we could find (we were on a budget). That evening I colored my hair, and the final product was...black. Jet coal soot pitch BLACK. Paired with my pale skin, I looked like a vampire. Fitting that we should be in Romania at the time. 

Ahh well, I told Jacob, it will fade soon enough. It will be fine! Plus, when I get my hair cut, it won't look like such a heavy black hair-helmet. A Romanian friend recommended a hairdresser and took me for my appointment. 

I showed the hairdresser a picture like this: 

Michelle Williams Pixie Cut

And came out looking like this: 

Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

I don't even remember when they gave me all those piercings.

I sat terrified as the hairdresser buzzed my entire head with electric clippers, snipped a couple of hairs with scissors, and called it done. On the way home I held back tears and stared at my near non-existent hair in the mirror. 

I spent the next few months over-compensating with make-up. When you don't have much hair to make you look like a girl, red lipstick is your best friend. 

Jacob and I struggled to find an explanation for my hair disaster. I had shown the hairdresser a picture, so this could not have been the result of a language difference. What had gone wrong? A couple days later our friend unknowingly slipped us the key - "Isn't redacted an amazing hairdresser? She is even blind in one eye, and you would never know!"

Come again? A half blind hairdresser? On one hand I wanted to applaud her remarkable tenacity and drive to overcome disability to live out her passion. Bravo!! On the other hand... did I show the picture to the wrong eye? 

The mystery solved, I vowed to revert my hair to it's natural color and grow it as long as I could. Jacob was to hold me accountable. 

The last time I had hair longer than shoulder length I was 15 years old. I found that short hair suited me, and more importantly - that I had little patience for growing it back out. I was addicted to haircuts. The feeling of hair being chopped is so freeing - it promises a future full of new possibilities, a new lease on life, a new look. I taught myself to cut hair, and by the time I was in college I was dreaming up new haircuts whenever I was bored in class. The bell would ring and off I went to my dorm room to give my new hairstyle a try. 

No longer. Now, in the wake of my hair tragedy, I would be strong. Vigilant. I would grow my hair out, resist the temptation to chop it off, and decide as an adult whether or not I looked good with long hair. 

For two years I waited patiently. Long hair, as it turns out, is a pain in the butt. It gets tangled, requires more shampoo and conditioner, and suddenly I was finding long strands of hair everywhere. When it was short, I never even noticed that I shed hair! Where was it all coming from? Worst of all, my hair began to get stuck beneath my purse strap on my shoulder, or trapped under my back when lying down. How do people stand it?!

By the time Jacob began to catch me wistfully googling "Carey Mulligan, Pixie Cut", the decision had been made. Some look amazing with long hair, and I am not one of them. My long hair just looks...normal. Really, un-inspiringly normal. It was time for the experiment to end. 

Now the problem was, after my last European haircut, I had a trust issue. I have seen enough lack-luster haircuts on the streets of Vienna to know that not all salons are equal. I also know that salons are expensive here - and was hoping I could scrape a decent haircut without paying €80. 

The solution eventually presented itself - a hair salon just down that road that doubled as a beauty school. For €25 I could have my hair cut by a hairdressing student who would work under the constant supervision of a trainer. Armed with a vision test and picture of my desired haircut, I turned up to my appointment. Much to the confusion of my student hairdresser, I held up two fingers and asked her to follow them with her eyes. She passed.

Hair wash and 5-minute scalp massage - check. Hair partitioned off in clips - check.  The trainer came by, checked my hairdresser's partitioning work, discussed my haircut in German, pulled out a few strands of hair, and snipped. Guiding lines having been created, my student hairdresser set to work. I checked the clock. I had been there nearly an hour. This was going to take some time. I settled into my chair and watched the hairdresser painstakingly measure and snip each hair. 

After another period of time the trainer rolled by again, made a couple adjustments, and disappeared. Four hours later, and a text message from Jacob saying, "Did you go back to Romania?", my haircut was finished. 

My hairdresser was exhausted. She had done an excellent job on a very difficult cut. Bravo!! 

Short Hair Chelsea

This post is dedicated to my mom, who steadfastly resisted the urge to shave my head while I slept, because she really really likes when I have short hair.