I trimmed my bangs for the first time ever, and not only did I not cry about it, I was proud.
Standing over the bathroom sink with the kitchen scissors– snip snip!— made me remember plucking my eyebrows as a teenager. The trying out of womanly rituals. The risk of not stopping soon enough.
When I first shaved my legs I had a round Flicker, or some such thing, that held five blades in its circle. To think of that razor (and, yes, the hot sting of cutting my shin, the gasp and the held breath as I watched to see if I had drawn blood) bring me back to YM Magazines, the smell of perfume samples in the 90’s, the stickiness of hair gel, the hiss of the curling iron, the tight fit of the collared, babysitter-hand-me-down bodysuit that felt like the sleekest thing I owned, the red cuffs of the brand new jeans, the smell of the school hallways, the cacophony of lockers, the sliding through a crowd of strangers I had known my entire life.
Health class and Rescusi-Annie. English with the dreaded group poems and the halting read-alouds. History that was the biggest joke of all (and still stings, cut a little too deep, but not enough to bleed).
The black plastic cases in the band room. The softening, woody taste of the reed, and the almost-cramp of amperture. The sincerely jovial director with the shining face.
Gym class and the locker rooms, where I never once showered. Girls reapplying compacts of powder, re-curling their bangs before the bell rang.
The squeak of shoes on the glossy floor. The government-standard hot lunch that should be against the law but still counts as nourishment.
The not-cozy library. The intoxicating theatre. The U of buses out front, rumbling and always the same, though the drivers and their customs changed. The thrill of the note in my mom’s illegible handwriting saying I could ride home with a friend, stay up late, eat candy, tell secrets.
These are just some of the ways I tried out being an ordinary girl, a version of myself, for better and worse.
And here she stands with a pair of clever scissors in her hand, and the ability to shape life as she wants it. I think, after all, she turned out well.