Sunday, April 10, 2005

Another 'hair-rising' post

My God-given eyebrows and I parted ways during my freshman year of college. Before I went to college, I had thick, wayward eyebrows that curled and went every which direction, and practically came to the tops of my eye sockets. I didn't think much of them until I went to college, and my roommate -- let's call her A -- showed up with beautiful, arched and well-mannered eyebrows. I was amazed. Naturally, I did what any intelligent woman would do -- I invested in a pair of tweezers and plucked the living daylights out of my God-given eyebrows.

The end result was uneven, extra thin, kind of freaky eyebrows. During that time, I was also wearing glasses, so the freakishness of the eyebrows weren't quite so obvious on first sight. A suggested once I should probably go to a salon and get them professionally done. This was a news flash; as far as I knew, salons were only to get your hair cut and your lip waxed. I had no idea they did eyebrows too.

The summer between my freshman and sophomore years was pretty traumatic. I was making the decision to switch my major and also to switch universities. I had transfer admission to UVA and I was ready to pack my bags and head south, bad eyebrows and all. It was also the summer I decided to get contact lenses, which is also a trauma, though one that's easy to get over. Getting contact lenses was a revelation. My eye doctor told me the world would be brighter and I should consider wearing sunglasses. Considering this was Vermont, where sunlight existed for like 5 percent of the time, I didn't actually take him seriously.

That was before I stepped outside and I could see the world in a clear and unadultered way, and for the first time in eight years, I had peripheral vision. That was way cool. And added benefit was when I went into a building, I didn't have to worry about glasses fogging up. And oh, when it rained -- which it so often did in the Happy Valley -- I didn't have to dream about little windshield wipers for my glasses.

I didn't end up going to UVA. A week before I was supposed to move down there, I backed out. I had already withdrawn from UMASS, so you can imagine the emotional upheaval there. Was I ever going back to school? Meanwhile, A and her beautiful eyebrows had found another roommate, and I was stuck in this weird limbo, though one I could see very clearly for the first time in years.

Thanks to the never ending bureaucracy at UMASS though, the administration had never processed my withdrawal and I ended up going back to UMASS with a new haircut, new eyebrows and new lenses. It was almost as if that summer I had decided to get rid of the dorky me with the long hair and the big glasses and start looking more like a sophisticated co-ed (actually, I'm still working on the 'sophisticated', but at least no one mistakes me for being 12 anymore).

Every now and then, I miss that girl, the one who didn't care about her bushy eyebrows, who never felt self-conscious about wearing glasses and whose favorite hairstyle was a single braid down the back. I'm torn between the way people think women should look and the way I feel comfortable. Once, when I was boarding the PVTA bus, I saw the driver hadn't shaved her legs. At an outlet store recently, the cashier hadn't waxed her upper lip. Most people would snicker, but my first thought has always been "You go, girl."

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