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THE LONG AND SHORT OF IT

Cindy Maddera

I'm staring at my reflection in the mirror. After weeks of an adolescent breakout on my chin, my skin has finally started to clear up. I'm thinking that I'm having a pretty good skin day actually and then I see it. The white hair in my left eyebrow. It's not the first white hair to recently grace my eyebrows. The first one showed up on the right, a short brilliant white hair. When that one showed up, I had this internal struggle of whether or not to pluck that hair. Plucking  it seemed hypocritical since I am so adamant about not dying the gray from hair, but at the same time that one white hair just seemed so out of place. I left it of course, like a short shiny beacon. The thing that set this new white hair apart from the others was it's length. This eyebrow hair was longer than any of the hairs growing on top of my head. It was long enough to put into a hair clip. 

First of all, how does that even happen? How can I look at my face every damn day and not notice this giant hair growing out of it? Did it happen overnight? I mean, that's really a lot of length for a hair to grow overnight. What else is on my face that I'm not seeing? We had a college professor in undergrad who had three large hairs growing out of the top his nose. I remembered that professor as I now started to scrutinize the top of my nose. Just to be sure. My body is not really sure how to behave these days. The acne on my chin says "teenager!" while the pain in my wrist screams "geriatric!" and my body hair has decided to do what the fuck ever. 

A couple of weeks ago I was wearing my David Bowie t-shirt and going through the check-out line in our cafeteria. The woman ringing people up and who practically runs the show down there looked at my t-shirt and said "You are not old enough to know who David Bowie is." I assured her that I was quite old enough to know The Goblin King as well as Ziggy Stardust. At a party on Saturday, there was a young man who nearly dropped his full plate of food on the floor as he leaned forward with a shocked "what?!" when he was told that I was nearly forty. I am well aware that I do not look (nor act) my age. Apparently this young man did not notice the foot long white hair growing out of my brow either (or it wasn't there yet).

I found myself having to tell my story to a couple of people that evening. It was a party in Terry's backyard, but more than half the people were people I had never met before. It's still hard to explain how I got here without mentioning Chris, because I wouldn't be here with out Chris. It's hard to explain how I've compacted eighty years of living into almost forty years of life. This is the only time I ever feel older than thirty nine. That and when everyone keeps posting first day of school pictures of their babies' first day of school. Tiny babies in high school. What is this world coming to? Then on Sunday, we took a wrong turn into a retirement community and I thought "ooh! look at this lovely retirement community!" So really I am an eighty year old woman trapped in a body that looks younger than forty, rides a Vespa and still wears Star Wars T-shirts with R2D2 on them. 

In the end, I did not pluck that crazy long white hair either. I trimmed it with a pair of scissors.