This week, I went for my first haircut in nearly a year. Like many people, I received an at-home haircut in the early days of COVID. In the moment, it didn’t seem too bad, but it only took a few days of growing out to realize what a giant mistake it had been.
I’d had some lofty ideas about waiting until the pandemic was officially declared as finished before getting a haircut. “It’ll be so liberating!” I thought. It would be a literal lifting of the weight of these many months of global disarray. But as my hair grew into some hideous combination of a mullet, a helmet and a Beatles-esque moptop, my resolve began to waver. When it became impossible to ride my stationary bicycle without a headband to keep the hair out of my eyes, I said, “screw it.”
I made an appointment, masked up and made my way to the barbershop in West Broadway on Monday. I’ve barely left the house for anything other than groceries in a year, so this trip felt strange. But wow, did it ever feel good to be out in a neighbourhood, doing things!
The barber was running slightly behind schedule and told me to come back in 10 minutes. I grabbed a coffee in the shop next door and drank it on the sunny sidewalk. I went in to get my hair cut and sat in a room with other people! Masked and distanced people, but people nonetheless! We engaged in the typical barbershop chatter and gossip. Laughs were had, we talked work and music and other nonsense. When it was all done, I walked across the street to try out the new bagel place.
Thirteen months ago, this would have been a perfectly ordinary day. If anything, needing to make the trip may have felt like a nuisance. But, this time, it felt like a breath of life. I didn’t realize that I needed the trip as badly as my haircut. It felt positively nourishing to spend an hour and a half out, patronize three local independent businesses and drive home with a freshly cut head of hair.
I’ll never take that for granted again.
Published in Volume 75, Number 22 of The Uniter (March 18, 2021)