I am falling apart. The disintegration starts internally, with synapses and cells I suppose. But eventually the phenomenon must manifest physically, visibly, externally. To all but me it’s an ineffectual alarm, quiet and cumulative.
My hair is falling out.
My ponytail is half as thick, and it’s still thinning. When I run my fingers through my hair, a single stroke on each side, my hands look like I’m holding pompoms. Long strands between all my fingers. I stand in front of the bathroom mirror thinking, “I’ll just gently comb my hair until no more comes out.” Fifteen minutes go by. I fill half the sink.
My husband, sitting downwind from me at a backyard barbecue, pulls long strands of my hair out of his coleslaw. I had no hand in food preparation. This is airborne hair. Newly freed.
I need to tell him soon about the slow drain in the bathtub. About the vacuum brush-roller immobilized by long, brown hair. I can fix these things myself. But I need a witness. There are parts of me that get sucked up, or that seize up, or that go down the drain. Here’s a visual.
In mythology, hair is power. I tell myself I’m not losing power; I’m diffusing it; I’m sharing. Generously. Staring at the hair in the sink sparks either hope or rebellion. I cannot tell the difference. Maybe the loose, loopy mound of hair in the basin is a sign of healing. Maybe I’m not growing weaker or sicker. Maybe I ought not to worry about what will slough off next. My skin, a limb. Maybe I need not brace for a louder alarm bell. I’m falling apart undeniably and literally, but it’s not breakage. Each hair falls out neatly at the root.
There is grace in letting go.
Maybe my hair holds the record of my recent history, the grayness of it, the way it stores proof of drug use, DNA, hair dye. My hope is this: That when the follicles lose their grip, each strand takes the toxins with it, the gunk that’s making me corrode from the inside out. The parts of me that aren’t me. The hair loss is an expulsion. It’s my body crying, “Enough is enough!”
It’s resource conservation. Hair is expendable.
I tell myself it’s just hair. I wonder daily how I still have any left in my head. The amount of loss seems more than enough to cause baldness, and also enough to hide it; there’s ample hair in the sink, now, to make a wig. There’s enough hair to form a curtain to hide behind, were it still on my head.
I fear exposure. I fear erasure. I fear I’ve endless amounts of hair and this might go on forever.