So Mom, you remember when you said once upon a time that you thought I would look cute in bangs? And you remember when I was talking about cutting my hair really short? Well, I compromised a little. I didn’t cut my hair really short, but I cut my bangs pretty dramatically. It’s kind of a funny story, actually (cue kitschy 80s cartoon theme music):
I went for a run with Elena yesterday evening after tutoring, and I was in a super good mood. Like, ridiculously, ridiculously good mood. Like, Elena and I took the first quarter of our run a little too fast and talked the whole time in a good mood. After the run I was in a good mood too - I stopped only once, at the top of the hill, where we always stop to stretch and take a look at the valley spread out in front of us (I figure, that’s not laziness, that’s just ensuring that there’s something on the run to look forward to in terms of beauty). And I ran up all of the stairs this time. And I wasn’t even dying! I was pretty ridiculously proud. And excited that this week I might actually enjoy going for our brief run every day (it really is brief - maybe half an hour or something, and we probably go only a mile, or maybe even less).
And of course, I always look forward to the shower afterwards. Frankly, the shower is the best part! It’s a challenge to be disciplined and keep the showers to the brief 5-minute limit that is recommended at the convent (to ensure equitable distribution of our limited hot-water supply).
So, I dunno, it was all really good, and when I got out of the shower, I was looking at myself in the mirror, and I just kind of thought, “What the hell? Why not?” And I got my scissors and chopped my bangs off.
Only I only had my big desk scissors, which aren’t very sharp. And as everyone who knows me well will know, I suck at anything involving straight lines.
Next thing I know my roommate is back, and there are suddenly five girls in my room going, “Wow, your bangs! When did you cut them?” So I started laughing, a lot, and trying to explain the whole run-shower-what-the-hell-cut-my-bangs sequence in between breaths and bouts of laughing hysterically. And then when they all told me they liked it, I thought I should get an honest opinion, so I started running down the hallway yelling for Katie and Elena, because I wanted to catch them before they left for their tutoring session at the champagneria.
So there’s me, running down the stairs to catch Katie and Elena, and there’s a group of about seven girls gathered down on the landing (including Laura, the actual 22-year-old Italian who sort of adopted us this semester and who already thinks I’m a nutcase) and they just stare at me, and Elena starts cracking up and Katie says, “How did you do that to yourself?”
I just busted out laughing again. “Honest opinion,” I said, “Should I ever do this to my head again?” Oh man, it was hysterical. Especially when Katie actually noticed the bangs. She thought my hair was really crazy looking, which it was at that particular moment in time, since it had partially dried and was frizzing and flying out behind me as I ran down the stairs.
Then, later that night when they got back from tutoring, they busted into my room and we had a hair-cutting party. They straightened out my bangs for me and adjusted them a little bit and showed me how to use a hair dryer and a round hair brush to make them stop parting in the middle as they used to do (thank goodness for Katie and Elena! And you know the best part? They don’t make me feel stupid for not knowing things like that). And they decided that Jeff’s hair needed trimming again, too, so we had Alexis’ and my desk chairs set up and we had a hair-cutting party involving six people in my room (which is so teeny! When you see the pictures, you’ll understand how funny this whole proceeding was) until 1:30 in the morning. Then Marlene came in and all seven of us piled onto our beds and had a great conversation about the political system, group dynamics this semester, and what really constitutes spiritual maturity. We kept talking until I literally started falling asleep where I was leaning against the corner of the bed and the wall.
Professor Skillen was really funny when he came in this morning to breakfast to check on Marlene (she’s been having the worst tooth troubles ever, and now it turns out that her root canal has to be delayed again until Friday, because the dentist was on vacation for Easter at the beach and on the way back his car broke down and he’s stranded). He noticed right away, and said, “You cut your bangs?” And I said yes, and then in classic Skillen style he said, “Well, I think that - well, I always come across wrong when I’m saying things - but I think there’s something nicely old fashioned about bangs, but I don’t mean to say that you look old-fashioned; I think it’s avant-garde in an old-fashioned way... It looks good.” Considering that I apparently already look like a librarian and have a librarian glare (totally unintentional, but something I mean to take advantage of know that I know about it), I don’t know if that’s a good thing or not - but he meant it as a nice thing, and I appreciate that. Professor Skillen really is like a fun, hilarious, slightly awkward father figure this semester, and I love him to pieces. He’s so great. He even lets us call him “Skills” (or “Skill-set” as Alexis affectionately calls him) and “Skillano” (if he really was Italian, we decided, his name would be translated into Skillano, and Mrs. Skillen could be Mrs. Skillana). And he gives us extensions, and loves it when we have charades games based on the fresco cycles we’ve been studying (“That’s a professor’s dream,” he said, and I so loved that we make him laugh). And when I was trying to get my phone interview and it wasn’t working out and I was really about to cry he pulled up a bunch of pictures from past semesters (“Look at that Greg Snader,” he said, “doesn’t he look like he’s having a great time? Look at that smile.”) and I think he was trying to cheer me up a little. He’s just so cute, and genuine, and pretty amazing.
So that was a little bit of a tangent. I’m posting a picture of the new bangs (at some point, when the stars align and I can upload it from a faster computer - I was going to today, but there were issues), and you can honestly tell me if I should ever do this to my head again. I’m not insulted if you think the haircut sucks - you don’t have to see me all semester, and I can totally have them grown out again by the time I go home. But you know how it is with new haircuts, and everyone says they look great even when they don’t? Yeah, I’m paranoid about that. So I depend on you guys to tell me the straight truth about how it looks.
I so love this semester. I don’t know what I’m going to do when it comes to be summer and I have to leave everyone here. I love them! I have the best roommate in the world, and I get to talk to amazing women like Marlene and Juanita every day, and have crazy conversations with Jeff on the terrace, and sunbathe, and run along the most beautiful cliff, and talk to Italian high schoolers, and learn from Professor Skillen every day, and wash dishes with the nuns, and have Suar Therese laugh that my name doesn’t really mean anything because it’s a last name.... I just can’t even tell you how much I heart the nuns, and Professor Skillen, and ‘my’ group of students here.
At least Katie and Elena and I are going to be living together. I was realizing that we really only have nine more weeks in this semester, and I just had a little flip-out moment. I really honestly can’t believe we’re almost halfway through. I’m just starting to really love it here and fit in. Of course, I couldn’t imagine leaving my housemates last semester either, and look how wonderful Italy has been... but you know? It’s so beautiful here, and these girls (and Jeff) are so amazing, and I feel like I’m learning so much (not really academically, but you know. On a personal and community growth kind of level). I so love it and I so want to be intensely in every moment from now until the end of the semester. I don’t want to miss out on a thing. And I want to do every crazy thing I can think of, like cutting my bangs off, just because I can and I’ll never have another chance to try these news things here, at this time, in Italy.
All that goes to say, I’m doing fabulously, even if I decide these bangs don’t suit me at all and I can’t wait for them to grow out. This semester really has been “redemptive” (to use Marlene’s new favorite word) in a lot of ways. I don’t know how much of this I’m going to be able to keep and use and continue to grow with back in the states, but I’m treasuring up every bit I can in hopes that I won’t forget.
The wysteria here is blooming madly, and the smell is drifting into our little convent room, Alexis is finally typing up her Mary paper (it was originally due last Friday), I’m about to go down to the coop for groceries with some of my favorite people ever, and if this semester gets any better, my heart is going to rupture from happiness.