I was cleaning out closets this weekend and found an interesting old box. It was small and looked like something jewelry might have come in so I opened it immediately. No jewelry came out but an actual ponytail fell to the floor and I recognized it at once.
It was MY ponytail, cut from my head when I was 6-years-old and completely in love with Olympic figure skater Dorothy Hamill. Sadly, it was one of the worst haircuts ever and left me looking more like a character from “Fantasy Island” than a gold-medal skater. I know this because my Dad nicknamed me “Da Plane” that year.
Cutting my hair also signified a huge change in my life because it was the same year my Dad left our house. Things got pretty sad then. Mom would shut herself in the closet and I would pretend like I didn’t know she was crying in there. It’s not that she missed my Dad that much. I can count on one hand the number of times I saw them happy together and they ALL happened after the divorce.
No, I think she was just terrified of being alone and raising 2 strong-willed (occasionally jerky) daughters on her own.
Who could blame her?
I was terrified too, knowing that he was gone and things would never be the same again.
I sat there, holding that ponytail and wishing I could go back. I wanted hug the scared little girl and pull that sad woman out of the closet.
For a few minutes, I felt all of those huge, terrible feelings all over again.
Then I took the ponytail to my own daughters to show it to them. They were horrified. I might as well have been holding my baby teeth or possibly a mummified animal. My sentimental ponytail was nothing more than a gross hunk of hair to them.
And they’re right!
So why DID my mom keep it for all of those years and hide it away in a sentimental box?
I mean, it’s HAIR!
Maybe she kept it because it represented the same lost innocence to her that it did to me?
I’ll never know but I went ahead and curled that little ponytail up, slipped it back into its box, and packed it away with other keepsakes.
Don’t worry Mom, I’m going to hold onto it for you. I’ll keep it hidden away until its time for another sentimental journey. Or until one of my girls sass me again, because then I’m going to hide it under her pillowcase.