I want to break up with my hairstylist—but I can't. He's the only one I've gone to for over five years, which makes him the longest relationship I've ever had. He's the one who knows the odd, varying, fine-but-coarse texture of my hair; the two opposing whorls on the top of my head which he cuts around; my habit of being half an hour late. He's given me unflattering bowl cuts, abruptly shaved bangs, awkward faux hawks with hard fades, suspicious no-layering layering, and anything elsey we would come up with, to play with my hair, which has finally, in earnest, begun to thin. And I haven't found the right haircut all this time.
I remember first meeting Roberto at the salon he used to work at. He had that kind of salt and pepper hair you only begin to appreciate once you start getting older, because how good grey looks on other people- or balder, because how good having any kind of hair looks when you begin to lose yours. He was also enthusiastic, and nerve-wrackingly clear with what cut he wanted to give me. I left that salon with a fantastic cut (I think) (I've been wrong many times), and a feeling that finally, someone understood me, by taking a shortcut past conversations and time, through my hair.
But the hair is falling faster now.
Whenever I kiss my dad goodbye as I head to work, I notice his pointed eyebrows, which he passed on to me. I also notice how shiny his head is, and how long it has been since he had hair himself. My dad used to have Leonardo DiCaprio hair. Boy band hair. Protagonist hair. And it's gone. Then, my eyes travel to his safari hat, his cargo pants, his colored socks and matching Crocs, and I wonder what else I will inherit from him. The impending baldness seems fine now. But it's still impending.
Maybe I need someone new, who can do more things with the hair I have less of. Or maybe, I need to stay, and enjoy these last few balding years with the only (and most expensive) barber I know.
A friend of mine recently choked, then laughed when I told him my haircut cost 700 pesos. His cost 350, and looked better than mine. He sent me the number of his hairstylist, and that number has been sitting in my phone, daring me to imagine that having a better haircut can make up for having less hair. But I also wonder if maybe this is the best my hair can do, with what I have.
I'll know in two weeks, as this latest cut grows out, but I think I know I'm staying. Roberto is always happy to see me, always excited to do something new. His assistant, Dana, is wonderful as well, sneaking in the best scalp massages and occasional free anti-flaking treatments as she shampoos me. They've moved thrice since I met them that day five years ago, and I have moved with them. Maybe it's loyalty, but I've often mistaken my own stubbornness with myself for loyalty to others. At least, with this, I know it will have to end, and there are realities I need to confront- but maybe not in two weeks. Maybe practicality can wait. Maybe when there's no hair left and that last haircut comes.