Some things we do are intentional.
"I'm thinking about cutting my hair shorter," I said to Susan.
"You shouldn't do that," she said. "Short hair makes women look older."
Even more drastically, I wanted to go red. I haven't had red hair since 1982, since the photo was taken (above) that I use for this blog. So in the stylist's chair, I blundered around trying to describe what I wanted, then gave up, fired up my phone, and showed Jeff that little "about me" picture.
There is always that moment, the final ta-da for the stylist, when it's too late to turn back, when fantasy-turned-reality feels like an enormous blow to the head with a sledgehammer. Luckily, I've received only compliments. "You look years younger," people are telling me. Some people don't even recognize me.
"I thought, who is that woman," Cathy said, "and then your voice came out of her."
Some things we do are unintentional. It was not until afterwards, once I'd been out in public a few times, that I remembered my redheaded Aunt Elizabeth, and how people used to react to her. Before she passed away last year, Elizabeth and I used to go shopping together, and it would surprise me, all the looks she got. I attributed it to her old age, perhaps the general decrepitude of moving about with her walker.
Now, I wonder if it had more to do with Elizabeth's red hair. It feels to me as if, since I've gone red, people are treating me differently: some attracted (older men), others repelled (store clerks in general, one blacksmith in particular).
Who knows what mysterious motives lurk in our subconscious. It occurs to me now perhaps I was drawn to red hair as a way to remember my aunt.
Truth is, I miss her.