It is a delight to be bald. Almost bald. Buzzed.
This morning I woke up and Greta told me that my hair already looked longer. I rubbed my palms against the fuzz, eye closed, reveling in the numbing, TV static sensation on my head. I obviously couldn’t tell if it had grown or not. She tells me this every morning now, as I burrow my face back into my pillow, unwilling to wake up.
I ran behind a group of boys at the Central Park Reservoir yesterday. From the outside, I must’ve looked like one of them. This fact delights my inner 12-year-old tomboy, who has been long buried away. The only details that indicate that I am different from the runners around me are my badly painted nail polish, three of my five piercings jingling at my ears, and the remnants of my eyeliner. Otherwise, I’d fit right into the pack. I ended up running past them, wondering what they must think of the girl-boy that beat them.
I ran in a sports bra today, and the men at the corner of 107th and Manhattan Avenue said something to me. I won’t call it catcalling because I refuse to look at their faces, and I purposely blow up my music to full volume to block out everything. I sprint, eyes ahead, past them on my afternoon runs. I assume that their comments are undelightful.
My dad warned me that my head would get cold if I cut my hair short. He is very unsupportive of my aesthetic choices. I love the wind on my scalp and it doesn’t feel cold or biting; it’s cool and refreshing and extremely delightful. I sometimes feel a ghost ponytail swinging behind me as I run. When I squeezed past a woman in line at the crafts store today, I instinctively reached for my hair to quell my discomfort, apologizing for her lack of spatial awareness and brushing back the baby hairs that no longer exist.
I discovered a little pink, bean-shaped scar right above the left side of my occipital bone. I can feel a gap in the bristles of my hair, like a deforested patch of land. Greta says it’s cute. I think I might look diseased.
My parents haven’t called me even though I sent pictures of me smiling manically next to a massive pile of my hair to our family chat. My mom replied with “很漂亮的小和尚.” Pretty little monk.
I do not feel pretty, little, or monk-like. I feel exactly the same, the same jumble of messy thoughts and random flashes of self-awareness, maybe a freer without the weight of hair on my shoulders.
I love the feeling of people petting my head, the breeze, and shower water hitting my scalp. Sometimes, I can’t believe some women go their entire lives without experiencing this strange, vibrating scalp sensation of running your hands along a buzzcut. It a sort of physical and mental numbness, like being asleep when I’m awake.
My Instagram blew up the day I posted pictures of my shaved head online. I personally thought the pictures made me look mannish. Everyone else said I looked
“Brave!” “Hot!” “Legendary!”
I copied and pasted a reply to these compliments.
A man on the street said I looked bold while I was buying mangoes. He said that I would save more time and feel free.
He is right. That is what I plan to do.
This essay is based on Ross Gay’s “Book of Delights.”