Everything was alien to me during my most recent visit to the barber—the smell of talcum powder, seeing my reflection in the mirror, the oversized cloth's embrace. Even the amount they charged for a cut suddenly seemed unfamiliar (hint: it was expensive, man).
You can't blame me, though. It's been exactly 730 days since I last got a proper haircut.
In December of 2015, I had my wavy hair trimmed after trying repeatedly to let it grow out and failing miserably. My futile attempts at flowing locks resulted in me having to endure its awkward stages. At the end of the day, I always found myself in the arms of a barber's chair—that's just how I was raised and trained, grooming-wise.
My strict parents had to drag me and my brother to the barbershop every other week no matter how cash-strapped the family was. It didn't help that in elementary and high school, I attended a Catholic institution, where implementation of the fabled 2x3 (aka the schoolboy cut) was a rule not to be broken.
One would think that entering college meant more freedom. As an aspiring creative taking up journalism, I was excited at the thought of finally being able to grow out my mane—only, the Lord was watching. I was an altar server at that time, and laymen were required to be as presentable as they were reverent. After all, how could one take a long-haired sacristan assisting the priest and swinging an incense burner seriously?
But the life-changing decision to completely stop making visits to the barber almost went unnoticed as the next months unfolded. My schedule was getting tighter and responsibilities were piling up over the first half of 2016, and that made it easier to stay away from a pair of scissors.
I've always wanted that rock star look, especially when I first picked up a guitar. Joey Ramone, Robert Smith, and Dave Grohl weren't just my top musical influences, but also my biggest hairstyle inspirations. All of them had long, messy, and unrestrained manes that just drew an audience in with every live performance.
Growing up, I was often disappointed upon exiting a barbershop because I never came across a pair of hands that I could trust with an electric clipper. Fixing my hair was also a never-ending conundrum. I styled it spiky a la Wolverine when I was younger, and when I entered my twenties, opted for a style that went well with finger combing.
Eventually, putting on a few pounds while working made me rethink barbershops altogether, believing that a short haircut would make my face look even bigger. Sporting a long, mop-looking 'do looked and felt good in the beginning, as people seemed fascinated with the shaggy-dude persona I learned to embody. Until, of course, it started getting in the way of my daily routine, particularly during eating and sleeping.
First, I was constantly hot, which added to my already excessive sweating. I had to keep my hair tied and strategically elevate my head for a good night's rest. I always ended up swallowing strands of hair for breakfast and while brushing my teeth. I play basketball when I have the chance, and when my hair was that long, there were more instances of having to secure my ponytail than actual scoring.
My mom began complaining about the household's hair product expenses, with a large shampoo bottle barely lasting two weeks. What made things more interesting was that my brother started emulating my aversion to the barber—something my mom wasn't too fond of.
All of a sudden, I noticed that the people around me were staring, and not in a good way. I sensed that they were doubting my grooming habits. My parents were still telling me to do something about the nest on ny noggin. And when all of these factors came together, I finally came to a decision: I was going to let go of my long hair.
No, tears didn't well up in my eyes as the barber was paring down and shaving off my hard-earned glory. Honestly, I was more concerned about the steep haircut prices. Other than that, it was just like any other visit to the barber. Plus, I really enjoyed the warm towel on my face and the obligatory massage.
Friends and colleagues have greeted me with positive reactions since, and my girlfriend's firmer grip during our last date is a good sign, right? Save for my full cheeks, I was more than prepared for our recent family portrait, where I finally embraced this new version of myself.
I can be seen in front of the church altar again, as well as a suitable representative for our publishing company during social functions. This time around, nothing will get in the way of a rebound during friendly games with my basketball buddies. Later this month, I'm going to be a part of the entourage at my cousin's upcoming wedding, and I figure that can (and will) be the first of many confident public appearances.