The Universe chortled. "You got it, babe."
What I didn't know was that the lessons would start before The Shear. And so close to home. The lights had barely come up in the theater after Mondays at Racine, the documentary short that spurred this decision, when I turned to Scott and shared my plan. Rather than the enthusiasm I'd anticipated, he displayed the look of someone asked to sniff milk two weeks beyond its expiration date.
It was no secret that he loved my long hair; but I thought this opportunity to support Susan, while exploring a whole new frontier of identity and appearance would appeal to his boundless curiosity and love of adventure. It didn't. Any time the subject came up in following weeks, he would get the same sour expression. I quit mentioning it. Then Susan's chemo started, and she scheduled her hair buzz for March 22. I scheduled mine for the following Friday. Scott and I finally started talking about it.
|A time of more concern about the dog's alcoholism than about hair|
(Photo credit: Gwyn Padden-Lechten)
"You know I'll support you in whatever you do. I'm so proud of you for doing this and supporting Susan. But... " He went on to say that he felt conflicted by a sense of betrayal that his life partner would radically alter her appearance without his input. He also reminded me that he does not adapt well to change. (As I reflected back several years on an argument that spanned an entire weekend—it was over changing the paint color of our bedroom from white to a muted mauve, or my desire to change it at all—I could see his point.)
My distress came from feeling that he viewed me as a life support system for a bunch of hair—and perhaps even more from my sense of loss that he was not joining in as my co-conspirator and road buddy on this venture. It seemed he could fully accept the loss of my hair if it were due to illness, but it was no cause for celebration to be healthy and taking this route as a conscious decision.
Even as we both politely grieved our grievances, we retreated to our respective emotional corners. I stewed endlessly on his recalcitrance toward embracing this journey that meant so much to me. Finally I realized that emotions are not currency; and Scott didn't owe me positive feelings about my choice. Despite his unhappiness with it, he had pledged his support. He didn't owe me that either, but he freely gave it. I loved him for that and for so much more.
I came out of my emotional corner, started expressing more love and appreciation, and everything seemed to shift. Scott became far more open to the impending Shear and even wanted to be present for the event.
The homeschool lessons aren't entirely over even post-Shear. Scott will occasionally look wistfully at my head and ask things like, "How fast does hair grow?" And when the "bald maintenance" Wahl hair clippers I'd ordered from Amazon.com arrived a few days ago, he got that sour milk look again. But he tells me I look beautiful, and we tell each other "I love you." And we keep learning.