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Splitting Hairs, by Amy

My hair has always been long; "your chestnut mane!" one friend exclaimed. My grandmother told me never to cut it. Other friends, relatives, and strangers ooohed and aahhed whenever I released my stretched-out scrunchie and let the hair cascade down my back. I also loved plopping it on someone else's head to see how they looked with my strands. Truth be told, I lucked out in the hair department. I never use products or straightening irons; all I do is wash, brush (barely), and blow-dry. I'm a low maintenance kind of girl.

But hair is hair, isn't it? And even though my long hair defined me (as frivolous as that seems), even though I envied my childhood friend who had hair to her butt, even though I loved to hide behind it or loop it up when it got in the way, still I figured it was time for a chop. Joel felt the same. Those knots and dreads and clumps of hair that ended up on the tiles just wouldn't do on the Big Trip. I needed to lighten my load, so to speak. That much hair was a hassle, a liability, as we crisscrossed the globe. So I took the plunge.

After 10 years of having only friends, as well as Joel, trim my locks on the bathroom floor, I made an appointment on Friday the 13th at Tomahawk Salon in Bushwick, which is the raddest, most macabre beauty parlor I have ever encountered. According to their site, it's “not your mother’s salon...a badass vibe of metal and oddities housed in a former motorcycle shop." Perfect. The fact that they played "Ramble On" was just icing on the cake.

But I was nervous, to say the least. My pink-haired stylist, Kristin, with Barbie tattoos up and down her left arm, put me at ease. I told her all about my trip, and how I needed a cut that was light and airy, something that wouldn't clog drains in Asian hostels or get stuck in the door of a bullet train or drag me down as I climbed Karst Mountains.

"Are you ready?" Kristin asked, scissors in hand. She had tied my hair into a low, sleek ponytail and was about to hack off nine inches, which I was planning to denote to Pantene. What a question, I thought, bracing myself. And then it dawned on me. I was ready, wasn't I?...ready to flee the girl who lived behind her curtain of hair while the rest of the world lay untouched at her disposal. Ready to free myself from the confines of the past as I stepped into my future, nine or more inches lighter.

"Yes," I answered, and then she snipped. I guess we'll see how Asia likes it.

words and photos by Amy.

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As a result of the unbalanced sex ratio for the last 30 years, by 2020 China will be home to roughly 30 million more young men than women.  - Bloomberg Businessweek

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