Mirror, mirror on the wall...
About twice a year it happens. I generally do not think about cutting my hair until the week before I have to go to mikvah, which means I do not cut my hair at all since we hold that one should not cut one's hair for several days prior to immersion. The end result? Months frequently go by between trimmings, my hair experiences increasing damage from being yanked into a ponytail and being shoved under various coverings until the final straw is reached: my hair is too long when I go to immerse, and I have to keep going under in an attempt to get down far enough so that my hair is below the water's surface. When that point is reached, a few hours if not a few days later, I take the scissors to my head and cut my hair into a '20s mini-bob.
B'H', my husband loves how I look in the baby bob. But that is now my pattern, and when I consider the history of my hair, I find it most amusing. I grew up with a full, thick head of loose, wavy hair. I may have been the shortest child in my class, and may have had to wear horrendous glasses since a baby, but hair- well, hair was my crowning glory if you will. It was the one part of my appearance that inevitably garnered me compliments.
When I got married, I did not find it tremendously difficult to cover my hair. I cannot really say why, since you would think that it would have been much more difficult as I was fond of my hair's appearance. Indeed, when I got divorced, I continued to cover my hair for several months, much to the horror of my family. Finally, at their insistence, I spoke to a dayan who gave me a heter to uncover my hair. Mulling over the public change in my appearance that was about to occur, I began preparing my friends and co-workers for the event. A few weeks later, I mustered up the courage and left the house with my hair uncovered and no covering in my car or in my purse.
I was quite embarrassed. I felt...undressed, and found it difficult to look people I knew in the eye at first. Finally, after one friend saw me and exclaimed "It's beautiful", I began to relax. Nobody was ready to burn me at the stake, and more importantly, nobody added to my already extreme discomfort. After a few days, I began to sink more comfortably into my uncovered hair state.
A good year or so passed, and I got engaged. One day the topic of whether or not I had to cover my hair for the chatunah arose, and since I had heard rebbeim rule both for and against, I decided to pose the shilah to my rav. There I sat at my desk when I heard the verdict: As soon as I got engaged, I should have started to cover my hair. Once again I had mull my predicament over. How was I going to get home? I did not even have a scarf to wrap around my head! I finally decided that Hashem would have to forgive me for the few blocks that stretched between my office and the dollar store, where I would purchase some shmata to do the ob until I got home.
Those few blocks that afternoon, I spotted more frum yiddin than I had seen yet in Manhattan. Relieved does not come to close to how I felt when I finally entered the dollar store and found a suitable item amongst the Ebony hair products. Upon returning home, I relegated my purchase to the "use when cleaning the house" pile, and trotted out my existing collection of hair paraphernalia.
Looking back now, I am still amused by it all. But in the end what the saga underscores is how integral my hair has become part of my spiritual being versus my physical being. And, with Hashem's help, it should never be any other way, bli ayin hara.