Tuesday, May 7, 2013

tl;dr: i'm going to write that book.

After two and a half years of growing her hair out, my sister
cut and donated her hair to NAAF in December. What a gift!
I often wonder what my life would be like if I were brave enough to walk outside without a wig.

It's such a part of my daily routine (wake up, wig on; wig off, sleep) that I often don't think about it until the weather gets extreme. The winter chill hits my scalp in a way I'm almost positive wouldn't happen if I had real hair on my head, and the unbearable humidity in the summer makes me wish I didn't have a wig on my head at all.

It's been easier to lie in the last couple of years about my condition because the people around me didn't grow up with me. They didn't see the slow transformation that happened between the ages of 7 and 18. And though I am no longer ashamed, the truth is that it is much easier to pretend than to divulge my entire life story. To tell you that I wear a wig is more than one line; it is a narrative that I only just began to understand myself three years ago.

But, like with any lie, there needs to be some convincing. Which is also why I find myself walking through Chinatown and taking mental notes of the names of different hair salons and their locations and the prices listed on boards propped up inside their windows. I realize that I really know nothing about going somewhere to get my hair cut. The last time I sat in a chair while somebody trimmed my hair, I was being fitted for another wig--and I definitely knew the cost of that. Last December, I went with Na to get her hair cut and was fascinated by the whole song and dance, from the wash and shampoo (Why does it cost extra at some places?) to the dozens of combs in all shapes and sizes sitting at each station (and they seem to all be used at once too).

The same goes for getting your hair "done" at a salon. I remember when Na went to prom and Mom took her to get her done. She came home with really pretty curls and looked as elegant as a celebrity. For every dance and every event that warranted that special trip, I stayed home. All it took was one motion to put a wig on my head, and there was nothing fancy to it. Mom would buy different barrettes from time to time because I think she didn't want me to feel left out, so I'd choose one from a box and clip my hair in a half ponytail. It never took more than 10 minutes. For my high school graduation, I sat on the couch for half an hour with my hair on a styrofoam head in front of me and curled it. It took half an hour. Na spent longer on her hair that night than I did on mine.

Hair salons, nail salons, Sephora makeovers, spas--you name it. I've never taken part in any of those beauty parlor adventures, and spent years doing my own hair (which ranged from tying bandanas and scarves around my head to the aforementioned barrette-choosing) and makeup (I have terrible memories of the women backstage before a play who would try to draw eyebrows on my face; it never, ever looked good) and nails. Then, as an adult, it became such a habit to not go to those places, and so I've never done any of it. I wouldn't even know the first thing about how to do any of it.

This, all to say: I've been thinking lately about the narrative that I said I wanted to finish, and about the people in my life who've asked me about finishing it since. I always said I wanted to "write that book," to really make something of the workshop piece I wrote in 2010 (I've excerpted very small bits of it before on this blog). In fact it was Joon who asked me a few weeks ago on my visit back to California if I was still writing, and I had to admit I haven't been, and scrambled to find a good reason as to why I stopped. So, I guess this seems like the right time to actually do more than just talk about wanting to write.


  1. Thank you for sharing this morning:-) This picture of you and your sister is the sweetest. I would love to read the whole book. -Jenny

  2. Always proud of you trey <3 and you are always beautiful. :) ~Rach