Thursday, February 7

tenses, tinted

not quite nine years ago (apparently long enough ago that I was still capitalizing my sentences as a rule), I went out and decided to put a bit (just a bit) of dye in my hair.
I think it cost me £25 or so.

I came home (which was at the time a lovely flat above 101 Victoria Avenue) and I wrote something like the following exercise in creative autobiography, which is strangely in third person and present tense. what was I thinking?

nine years ago one of my pet names for myself was 'the muse.' friend Chris has recently proclaimed that he misses this persona a little. and so, for really no reason at all, here is a brief resurrection, of sorts:

The muse is late for her appointment. She apologizes and waits for Charlie, the girl who is scheduled to mess with her thick brown locks, to finish a few less important tasks. The magazines on the little table are full of shockingly unconventional hairstyles. The girl tries not to let herself get to nervous. There are huge mirrors in this hair salon, huge and clean, just like there are in every other hair salon. She sits down in front of one, having discussed one particular coppery bronze colour mere moments previous. Charlie, who has bright blue extensions in her own hair, breaks out the straighteners and proceeds to iron all the frizz out of the muse's hair. Surprisingly, it works. The muse might have to get herself some of those, for the next time she wishes her hair were straight.

All of her long, thick tresses are now being combed and split up into sections. Charlie's boss is giving her a few bits of advice, commenting on how thick and long this hair is, and how therefore it will need more color than usual. More segmenting and numerous clips are involved, and Charlie begins. It is a slow process. The dye looks purple as she brushes it into the little bits of the sectioned hair. The muse watches in the mirror, and thinks about how she looks. She is hating her smile.

Charlie asks her about herself, what she studies, how she's enjoying the hot weather. More and more hair is slathered with purple goo. Hours go by. Charlie is tired. The first three months of pregnancy are supposedly the most exhausting. Charlie is only eighteen. Segments of hair are rearranged, parted, clipped up. This would all take far less time if Charlie weren't only a trainee hairdresser. As it is, she works very slowly. The muse doesn't mind. The muse is saved from boredom by her own random thoughts, interspersed with hairdresser chit-chat and also what Charlie calls 'naff radio'--because the television, sadly, is broken.

The muse watches the other hairdressers in the mirror. One of them stops and considers Charlie's work. What can she see? Trying to imagine how the muse must look from their positions is an amusing diversion, but an impossible one. The faces in the mirror, including her own, are backwards. She thinks... even if I were looking at my own head from up there, would what I saw be the same as what Charlie sees? The muse will never know. She is not Charlie. She never will be Charlie. If she were Charlie, she would not be she, and that just wouldn't make sense. Still, she tries to imagine being pregnant at eighteen, with a boyfriend and a full time job.



as a postscript to the original entry, I added, "Refracting the whole thing from the memory that it is back into a present tense narrative was a bit interesting. I've gone and broken it now though. My hair still smells a little like dye."

a week or so later I flew back to America and started readjusting to the crazy spaciousness of it.

everyone, including the muse, is wondering where I'm going to go next.

{ photo borrowed from this kind soul on flickr }


Janeheiress said...

Do you have pictures of what your hair looked like?

Amelia Chesley said...

you know, I think I do somewhere... but they are the non-digital kind. I should try to find them...