Since I decided to grow out the burst-of-middle-aged-rebellion shaved sides of my hair, I’ve pretty much lived in bird-lady mode, with hair-wings mercilessly protruding from the sides of my head. After reluctantly wearing my hair down as a wing shield for months, I spent a good 30-minutes today putting my long locks into a refreshing off-my-neck bun, then stapling down the wings with enough bobby pins to be assimilated into the Borg collective.
After all that work, it was declared we were going to the zoo. There’s a new Africa Rocks exhibit I’ve been eagerly looking forward to experiencing, but, crap, I just did a bun. My aversion to long exposures of direct sun meant I was going to have to wear a hat. Unfortunately, the laws of physics rule out a bun-hat-wearing relationship.
In science, there is a principal called Occam’s Razor, which basically says that when faced with multiple solutions, the simplest solution is usually the best. After considering cutting a hole into the top of one of my old hats, I remembered an old visor buried away somewhere that my mom bought on one of her visits and then left behind. She’s a visor kind of gal. I am, most definitely, not.
Never has a visor been a viable option under the sun, literally, for this gal. But today, it was my Occam’s Razor. Save the bun. Wear the visor.
It turns out, the simplest solution is not always the best. I made my appearance in the kitchen ready to go, binoculars hanging from my neck with a giddy excitement of all it would reveal at the zoo. The pristine white visor, much more comfortable than I imagined, gently cupped the sides of my head allowing the unhindered bun full reign.
Surprised with myself at how willing I was to go out in public this way – gleaming white visor, binoculars around my neck, frumpy mom capri jeans, and sensible sneakers – I was also surprised at the anti-visor family protest that spontaneously erupted with a firm stand-up-for-what’s-right fury.
David dissecting me with one eyebrow up declared, “The transformation is complete.”
He was not only referring to my current embracing of my science-geek-binoculars-toting side, but that I was… (sudden lump in my throat – moment to push back the emotion)… becoming my mom.
Ava, embarrassed by anything her mother does these days, angrily reached for the visor to rip it right off my head. “You look like a grandma!” It was a flurry of arm flailing bun-protecting Jiu Jitsu. “You look like a tourist!”
“Not the bun!” I shouted, blocking her kickboxing moves with cat-like reflexes.
For a moment, I considered wearing the damn visor anyway, in protest of them. Screw you guys! This is me now!
Then I took another look in the mirror and saw what they saw. If my almost 70-year-old mom had been standing next to me, we could have been twins. Her with her visor, capri mom pants and a non-stop trigger finger on the camera – me in the same vain, sporting binoculars.
Since going back to school and spending every waking moment doing math and science, I’ve gotten in touch with a side of myself that I’ve missed – the side that is driven, the side that is inspired, the side that is in pursuit of something meaningful, tackling my fears and learning things I’ve always wanted to know.
When I set my mind to something, I do it. I like that about myself. But, sometimes, my intense all-or-nothing approach will leave me bloated, due to not prioritizing my health and well-being, wearing frumpy mom jeans and sensible sneakers, in a bun-conserving white visor with binoculars around my neck. As if my two-sizes larger than they used to be nighttime undies weren’t bad enough.
I voluntarily removed bobby pin after bobby pin, leaving a pile of tin the height of the ceiling. I grabbed my favorite hat that I picked up that one time I was in Germany or Paris, or maybe Copenhagen… one of those work trips. Pulling my ponytail through, I reconnected with that vibrant, youthful explorer – the one who isn’t ready for the visor.
On the way to the zoo, I silently looked over at my partner of 20-years, the two of us together since we were in our early 20’s – a time when we were in our hot-bod primes, full of fit, wrinkle-less romance, where trips to Victoria’s Secret were the norm and visors were those things in the drug store isle you had to walk through on your way to the liquor section.
With a smile on his face, hands on the wheel, feeling my stare, he glanced my way, then back to the road laughing, “Never do that again.”
Sometimes on this path we travel, a loving intervention could mean the difference between the preservation of our true self, and a white visor. I still rocked the binoculars, though. Baby steps.