I’m dyeing my hair purple, and it’s all my therapist’s fault.
Sometimes I do weird things in therapy (you can read episodes 1 and 2 of this series here and here). I really do like my therapist, I swear, but she’s got some weird ideas every once in a while. As an even rarer occurrence, her ideas lead to questionable life choices such as dyeing my hair purple.
A few months ago, she gave me a bizarre homework assignment: she handed me a shoe box and a stack of magazines, and she told me to go home and cut out pictures. I had to glue pictures that represented my “inner self” on the inside of the shoe box, and I had to put pictures that represented how others see me on the outside of the shoe box. I wish I had a photo of my face when she told me this. I think it was…skeptical to say the least.
“I’m sorry, what?” I asked. “You want me to cut out pictures? Like, what the kindergartners at my school do?”
“Yeah…it could help…” she said, looking a bit uncertain. She was probably worried I would flat out refuse (a very real concern, by the way. I thought about it). In the end, I figured that she’s the one with the degrees and I’m the one with the defective brain, so it would probably be best to do what she said.
I went home and got to work. Shards of magazine paper were quickly strewn about the living room. My husband walked in at one point and asked what I was doing. “Therapy homework,” I answered, as if this explained everything. He looked at me a moment longer, trying to figure out what I was doing. I held up a picture of spaghetti in response. “Do you think pasta is more of an inside piece of me or an outer piece of me? Because, like, everyone who knows me knows that I love Italian food, but I actually really do love Italian food. Does that make it inside or outside?”
“Uhhh…cut it in half?” he suggested. Perfect. Great solution. I hadn’t even had to bother with explaining the project. This is why Andy is great. I cut the spaghetti in half, and Andy walked away (probably to shake his head and swear that he will never go to therapy).
When I brought my shoe box into therapy the following week, I presented it like a kindergartner presents a finger painting masterpiece. “I did my homework,” I said. “Is it good? Do I get an A?”
“There are no grades in therapy,” my therapist said for the thousandth time (which is not true, I say. What else could possibly go in that thick file of notes about me?! I know she’s writing if I did a good job or not. I JUST KNOW IT).
We talked about the box for a while and how the optimization of happiness occurs when the inside of the box matches the outside, or when people are projecting an authentic image of themselves. Perhaps this is why I’m happiest when eating spaghetti!
An interesting conversation sparked when she noticed a picture of a girl with purple hair on the inside of my box. She asked me about it, and I said, “Oh, I don’t know…I just put that in there because I’ve always thought it would be fun to do something really crazy with my hair, like dyeing it purple.”
“Then why don’t you dye it purple?”
I looked at her as if she was the crazy one, not me. “You don’t just DYE your hair purple. People would think…I mean…you just don’t DO that. It’s weird. My husband would kill me. I would get fired.”
“You’re a teacher, right? Why can’t you dye it purple for the summer?”
I shifted uncomfortably on the couch. “Because…um…because it’s just not done.”
“I say if you want purple hair, you should go for it.”
I assured her that no, that’s crazy, and theoretically wanting purple hair and actually dyeing it were two totally different things. I was squarely in the camp of the former.
Still, somehow, the next week when I was getting routine highlights done, I struck up a conversation with my stylist. “So…umm…theoretically, how difficult would it be to dye my hair purple?”
Her eyes got wide and excited behind her thick square-rimmed glasses. “Oooooh, like a purple strip on the inside by your neck? That would look awesome.”
“Uhh…no…” I said slowly, wondering if the highlighting chemicals were seeping into my brain. “I actually meant…sort of…all of my hair.”
“All of you hair? Like…your whole head?” Apparently this is not a common request.
“Hold on,” I said. I quickly grabbed my phone while she kept wrapping highlights. Amazed that I was even thinking about this, I google searched some ideas for purple hairstyles. I found one I liked, and I held it above my head. The light of the phone reflected in the tin foil strips of my highlights. “Like this,” I said, watching her reaction in the mirror as she stopped to look at my phone. She looked even more excited than she had earlier.
“Seriously?” she took the phone out of my hand to look at it more closely. “That would be so fantastic. Let’s do it. This is going to be so fun. When are we doing this?”
“Summer,” I said definitively. “Right when school gets out.” As soon as I said that I thought, “Wait, what am I saying?!? Back up! Take it back!” Except I didn’t do that. I looked in the mirror, head full of foil, and smiled.
After that appointment, months ago, we put my purple hair appointment on the books: June 15. At the time, June 15 was such an abstract date – far in the future. Now it’s…in eleven days. I’m a bit nervous, but I’m mostly excited. When I told my husband about this idea, he was surprisingly supportive. He said he thinks purple hair will look really sexy. I don’t know if it’s the purple hair or simply the fact that I’m not trying to fit into what I “should” be anymore, but one or the other is definitely attractive. I feel sexy.
My sister went to that same stylist last week, and the stylist was talking about how excited she is about my crazy hair project. My friend Bri lives in Maryland, and she texted me this week to say, “Purple hair, Hazel? Seriously?” This made me laugh, as this friend was voted Biggest Gossip in high school. Even ten years and multiple states later, she somehow still has the pulse on the latest news. She must have heard it from the ONE other person from high school who knows about it. My husband said he’s pumped to see it. I bought new nail polish to match it. There’s no going back, people. I’m going purple. THIS IS HAPPENING.
I asked my husband to take me downtown this weekend, as I have some new white shoes I want to wear. I told him that I’ve been waiting until after Memorial Day to wear them because they’re summer shoes. He said, “Wait a second…you’re dyeing your hair purple, but you can’t wear white shoes before Memorial Day?”
“Absolutely not,” I responded, appalled. “I’m edgy, not TOTALLY INSANE.” This made us both laugh. There are so many issues with that statement. Maybe I’m not quite done with therapy yet.