I am a big huge fan of girls-only retreats. Sometimes nothing calms my soul than hanging with my girlfriends away from home (the farther away, the better). I’ve had friends who, when they get a new guy, dump everyone in their lives as they concentrate on their new relationship. Then they (try) to reappear when things head south. I don’t do that—I make a real effort to ensure that I make my friends I priority regardless of my relationship status.
Such is the long history I’ve had with my best friend, Julie. We met in college and have been “besties” ever since. She knows me better than no one. The best part of our friendship? I can tell her anything and feel safe, loved and accepted. Which doesn’t mean that we are not honest with each other even when things get dicey. We have been close for so long that “we” can withstand painful truth, which is one of the many reasons I love her so much—she will give me advice and her opinion, even if it is hard to hear. Developing that kind of relationship takes time, commitment, love, trust and depth. It does not happen overnight.
This past weekend, I took my oldest daughter to Las Vegas and met up with Julie and her oldest daughter. In the warmth of the Vegas sun, we reconnected, ate (and drank) too much, sent our daughters off to a Justin Beiber concert, went on the rollercoaster at New York, New York, and got some fresh vitamin D while laying out at the pool (yes, I put on lots of sunscreen).
What was most exciting, perhaps, was that I bravely went out in public without my trusty wig on for the first time. I went bald in December, thanks to chemotherapy. It took 45 long days until it started growing back. I currently have a nice soft layer on my scalp but I never head out without one of my three wigs. Until this past weekend. Julie and our daughters convinced me that I look great with my shaved head. My daughter said that I look “fierce.” On day two in Vegas, I went to the lobby to buy a coffee and I did it—no wig! And guess what? No one stared at me or said a word. It felt fantastic, liberating actually.
That afternoon, we headed out to the pool and, again, no wig. I was paranoid not to burn my scalp and wrapped my daughter’s t-shirt around my head. When we took selfies, I lost my bravery. I wrapped one of the hotel’s orange towels around my head before we started snapping away. Truth is, a short buzz-cut girl I am not. I am one with long tresses. I couldn’t let any of my Facebook friends or Instagram followers see this person who was not me.
…Except, I’m not that girl anymore, I’ve come to realize. Life has changed me. I survived cancer twice. I’ve survived three stem cell transplants. I survived a terrible marriage and divorce. I survived the extremely bizarre dating scene in Utah. I am surviving (and thriving) life. I have new priorities and passions. I am not that same girl.
Am I fierce? I am! I am tough, resilient and optimistic. I’m raw and open. I hide pretty much nothing—all my successes and failures are right on my blog. I am far from perfect and I’m ok with admitting it publicly. Maybe this short hair is more “ME” than the girl with long fake hair, eyelash extensions (after losing the hair on my head, I also lost all my eyelashes so when they started growing back, I got impatient and got eyelash extensions), and lip filler (I lost a lot of collagen in my lips, too, so I headed to a medical spa for help). Maybe it’s ok that the outside ME is more in-line with who I am inside.
Julie, ever the honest BFF, said she was proud of me. “You’re amazing just like that!” she said. And then she told me about our mutual friend who is undergoing chemo. “She never wears a wig. She’s proud that she’s beating an awful disease. Who cares what anyone else thinks?” Ok, why not.
The exhilarating feeling of walking around with very short hair is addicting. I am heading on family vacation for Spring Break. I have no intention at all of wearing fake hair (unless we are posing for family photos then maybe I will). I am heading to the wig store tomorrow and buying a fun turban that I can wear on the plane (my head gets cold so easily), and several hats I can wear while out in the sun (no sunburn!).
And the rest of me? Perhaps natural is ok after all.