The morning after. I woke up in the same bed, but instead of reveling in the bright sunshine pouring through my window at 7:42, I hid under the covers. The scratchiness of my pillow brought back the incidents of the day before. I’d cut all my hair off. I was one step above Sinead-O’Connor bald. The black and red silk scarf that protectively guarded my tresses now held a black stocking in place on the beginning of brush waves. I looked around my room knowing every detail, but still trying to find a way to get out of bed without seeing my reflection in the wall mirror on my left or the mirror in the hall. I wasn’t ready to embrace the look. I was chastising myself for the bold move. I closed my eyes and took several deep breaths to calm my racing thoughts. The comments, the insensitive things my family will say, my own self-consciousness about my haircut. All of these things came at me full blast before my feet even hit the run-of-the-mill beige apartment carpet.
I threw back my orange, red and yellow IKEA bedspread cover and got up. The sooner I dealt with it, the easier it would be. I needed time to prep, to get my mind right to take the abuse I anticipated the rest of the day. Thankfully, the kids were at my parents’ house for the weekend. I had time to play with make-up and jewelry before the blunt honesty of a 7- and 4-year-old hit me like a tank. And I had time to build up to my parents’ sideways comments. Thinking about it gave me a headache.
I trudged down the narrow hallway, staring at myself as I approached the mirror. I needed to get used to the look. I needed to know what people saw. Actually, I needed to know what I saw. I stopped there and looked, I mean really looked. I took off the scarf and wave cap and ran my hand across my scalp. The hair was smooth and wavy after just one night. The squared-off hairline was definitive if not feminine and made me feel more assertive, defined and a little attentive. I took a step back and looked at my complete reflection. Like yesterday, I realized some things I hadn’t paid attention to when I had hair. The fact that my forehead wasn’t too flat or protruding. The amount of space from my eyebrows to hairline wasn’t too little or too much. I had an oval face, and large, almost-black eyes. My eyebrows were thick, some of the most natural thickest and neatest I’ve seen on a person if I have to say so myself, but in need of a shape up. I realized that if I was going to rock the fade, I needed to take more care with presentation of everything from my scalp down. No more fuzzy squirrel-like eyebrows or I-don’t-care days. Being short required a level of pizzazz that I’d neglected in the past.
I went into the tiny bathroom and brushed my teeth, doing a mental inventory of all the clothes I had in the closet and what would be the best outfit to wear on my first day out and about. I decided on my red, black and white halter maxi dress with red sling sandals. I showered and got dressed in 15 minutes. When I had hair, that same routine took at least 30 minutes, assuming I didn’t have to do any style touch ups. One positive aspect of going low: out the door in record time.
I put my dress and sandals on and scoured through my jewelry box looking for just the right accessories. My ex bought me a beautiful cherry jewelry cabinet and although I had full intentions to fill the six drawers and two side cabinets with jewelry, I only managed to own two necklaces and enough earrings to fill half of one drawer. Luckily, the pair of large red earrings I got as a gift survived the move after the divorce. I picked them up, searched for backs and put them in my ears. I needed something else though. I had earrings and cleavage, but my wrists and fingers were bare. No rings or bracelets to add more touches of femininity. I went into the living room to get my planner and make a list of all the things I’d think I’d need to accentuate my look. First: a chunky ring. Second, bangles. Third, heels. High heels. Sexy, high heels. Maybe even CFM heels. A trip to the MAC store. Hell, a lesson on how to apply make-up. A trip to the library or book store. A day devoted to videos on YouTube.
I took my planner with me to the bathroom and got out my outdated and barely occupied make-up bag. The only things in there were clumpy mascara that I know I purchased at least three years ago, Wet N Wild eyeliner and Lip Smackers lip gloss. In other words, nothing to write home about. I figured I’d make the most out of what I had to work with and do something with the eyes until I could get to a good make-up counter and purchase something. I opted for a basic lined eye and light lip gloss. I didn’t want to look like I had mirrors on my lips, but the Chapstick really wasn’t getting the job done like I needed. I stared at myself in the brightly lit bathroom and thought ‘make the appointment at MAC now’.
I went into the living room and plopped down on the Lilberg, fired up the laptop and searched for the number to the MAC store. Thankfully, the one at Tower City was open until 9 p.m. and they had an open appointment in an hour. I could get a free facial if I bought $40 worth of products or could just pay $40 for the make-over. I budgeted $90 for my girly excursion. But… oh God… I had to leave the house to get to MAC and THEN I had to walk around downtown and through the mall to get to the store. Sigh…. okay…. I can do this. I grabbed my one good purse, slipped on my sandals and shades, stood up straight and headed out the door.
It was hot. What I didn’t expect was the hot ass sun burning my head. Before I walked the 20 feet to my parking spot, my head was already sizzling. Jesus. I should have brought a sweat rag with me or something. The warm, relaxing breeze from yesterday now felt like hot breath on my neck. I didn’t anticipate this feeling. Thankfully, my car was parked in the shade and hadn’t reached Hell level yet like the rest of the outdoors. I sat in the car, waiting for the cool air to kick in and dry off all the sweaty parts. I popped in Jill Scott and let the words of Love Rain wash over me for a minute before I headed downtown.
Twenty minutes later, I was in the Tower City garage, talking myself bold to get out the car. I wasn’t the first almost-bald black woman to walk the streets of Cleveland. I wouldn’t be the last. For all I knew, there were other women in the mall with my same fresh cut. Just get out the car, Aya, Get out and walk like nothing is different. Grab the purse and GET. OUT. I took a few deep breaths to calm myself, rubbed my head one more time and got out the car. I decided I would put a little more slip in my hip when I walked. Actually, I would saunter, not walk. I would saunter to the MAC store to find my inner sexy. It was new to me so I had to count the beat in my head. One. Two. One. Two. Right. Left. Right. Left. Hip. Ass. Hip. Ass. Work it….I was so busy focusing on the walk that I ran over a tall, mahogany drink of cold water with the deepest, darkest brown eyes I’d ever seen. He was wearing Dockers with a pair of brown Kenneth Cole slip-ons. His striped polo shirt was crisp and playful, yet professional. He was working on a Saturday.
“Hey, Momma. You rockin’ that hair, girl. Don’t hurt nobody,” he laughed, reaching up to steady me before I stumbled in my sandals.
I laughed too. “I won’t. Sorry. Got a lot of things on my mind right now and I’m trying to make it to an appointment on time before they tell me I gotta reschedule for being late.”
He smiled. “Yeah, y’all always late for something. I hope you make it on time. Maybe I’ll run into you again later…?” he asked encouragingly.
“I hope so. I’d ask you to come with me so we can talk, but you wouldn’t get my full attention,” I said. I needed to get to MAC. I wasn’t ready for someone to see me half done and still like me. That wasn’t part of the plan, but then he was like.. that guy I always dreamed about meeting and who would want me so bad it hurt.
“How long are you going to be? I’m here for an appointment too. I’ll be done in about an hour. Meet me by the music store.”
I hesitated. First of all, it’s been FOREVER since I’ve been picked up, so I didn’t have a witty comeback. Second…. um… I didn’t have my makeover yet. What if it took more than an hour? Screw it. But then I thought “What do I have to lose?’
Next: MACing Eldridge