12. Liberation

15th of May 2020
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My legs are shaking slightly. I feel like a stranger in a body I don’t trust. Something is wrong with it, it is not normal, it is not calm; but I also can not explain the exact feeling. I haven’t slept a wink all night.

Samirah and I take a shower. We are a little short in time. At 11:30 we have the appointment at the hairdresser’s. At first, we had decided that Samirah would shave my head, I even bought a hair cutting device that men usually use. But in the end we preferred to start with a more gradual change. So I’m going to see my hairdresser. I have hair until my shoulders and I’ll ask her to cut it very short.

My hairdresser, due to Covid restrictions, cannot attend more than two clients at a time at the shop, and she hasn’t been able to give me an appointment until today. My plan is to cut my hair before it starts falling out. I want to avoid a trauma. To be honest, I thought my hair would have fallen out by now, but it hasn’t yet. So let’s create a step in between, I’m going to cut my hair very short, as a stepping stone to going bald.

It’s just hair, something that grows again, that comes and goes, I repeat to myself in an effort to calm down and I feel stupid because I don’t understand why such a trivial thing can affect me in this way. And it’s not just me. Samirah is constantly worried about it, the idea of a bald self haunts us every day. I hope I don’t look horrible or look like a boy.

We walk hand in hand the few streets that separate us from the beauty salon to which I have been loyally going for the last ten years. When we arrive, the hairdresser wants to hug me, but first she has to disinfect me. At the doorway she cleans my shoes with a disinfectant liquid and asks me to wipe my hands with a gel. When Inma finishes the disinfection ceremony, she hugs me from behind and welcomes me. I also greet Xiomara, the other hairdresser and the only client they are serving at the moment.

I get to the point.

– Inma, I’m going to make a radical change.

She looks at me, so does Xiomara, and then I let out the cancer bomb. My voice breaks, I’m crying a little while I watch Xiomara hold her chest in shock and anguish.

-Well, it’s all right, it’s all right”, replies Inma and urges me to get into the chair.

Somehow, I am reassured by my hairdresser’s attitude, as if it were nothing, a passing flu. Samirah shows Inma a photo of a cut we like, even though she knows it won’t make any difference because Inma will do whatever she wants with me. 

Inma starts cutting and I’m letting tears fall for my hair, that I’ve never cutthis much, for hair that I always complain about but that I wasn’t prepared to let go of and piece by piece, lock by lock, my hair goes.

In my head I pray to God and tell him that I accept this situation, but that I am going to be cured, that I am going to get well and my hair will return and will continue with it all the things that breast cancer can put on hold at this time in my life. I stop clinging to my hair and accept that I have cancer, that I am going to go bald, but also that I am going to get out of it, as thousands of women in the world have already done before me.

The mirror shows me a reflection that I have not decided whether or not I end up liking, while the stocky six-foot-tall woman moves quickly with her fingers and scissors over my head, as if she were pruning a tree and she was Edward Scissorhands. Samirah films the event while she calms me down and motivates me by telling me every five seconds that I look pretty and that she likes the way I’m looking.

The result is not bad, I just look a bit like Justin Bieber.

When we finish at the hairdresser’s I am wrecked, as if I had just run the Malaga Half Marathon. I take the opportunity to go to the supermarket and buy flower pots for my new hobby, but I feel with every step that I need a bed or the sofa in my living room. 

At least this is done. It’s just hair yes, but not only that. This is the moment where I have accepted and am showing proof that I am starting this tough transatlantic journey that will keep me busy for a while and experience uncertainties and difficulties, but every journey has an end. I will finish my journey, learn and live as much as I have to and the this, like everything in life, will pass.

Mi "Justin Bieber look"
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