Sunday, August 30, 2020

Hair in the Time of COVID, Video Game Redemption

Well, I’ve done it. I’ve gone short. Eleven months worth of dry, brittle, frizzy growth has been chopped from my head, and I am free. Free of ponytail bands, barrettes, bobby pins and hair clips. Free of laborious shampooing. Free of split ends. Free of the months and months of stress energy that my hair had absorbed as I dealt with the calamities of working in a hospital during a pandemic. As the stylist sliced away at my hair and I watched it fall to the floor in dry, dull strands, I wondered what took me so long. Part of it was indecision, part of it was some vague hope that if I just waited it out a little longer, I would magically wake up one day with a long, glossy mane of healthy hair, part of it was a chronic case of why-botherism. But no matter now. It’s done. I have a pixie again, and while it’s a still little startling, I love it. It’s nice to have an actual hair style, instead just a sloppy pony tail or bun in tandem with self-cut bangs. And I was directed to use something called “Surf Spray” after I wash it, which affords me the fantasy that I am beachy and free-spirited.

I was a little worried about how the salon visit was going to go, but overall it was fine. They “screened” me as I came in, which was…interesting. As someone who now manages the entry screening points at the hospital, I can tell you it was not up to standard by any means. I understand that they were trying to be low-key about it, but I would get them into shape real fast if I was in charge of their screenings, I’ll tell you that. The worst part was that I had to keep my mask on through the whole process, and because the cut involved a lot of texturizing, tiny stabby pieces of hair kept falling into my mask and itching my skin, which made me very anxious, which in turn made me sweat, so I had a sweaty, unbearably itchy “hair mask” that I was desperate to take off but couldn’t remove. They offered me a new one at check out, thank God. And it was nice to be back patronizing a neighborhood business again. I’ve been going there for haircuts and massages for years, and like the gym, I missed them and wondered how they were doing.

Now that the big hair news is out of the way, I have a Stardew Valley-related confession to make: In my first iteration of the game, I sold out to the giant Joja Corporation, which allows them to take over the town Community Center and turn it into a huge warehouse. I had good intentions, but I was an inexperienced player and pathologically adverse to spending money, so when I suddenly found myself with a lot of cash on hand and realized it would be ten times easier to sell out than to develop the Community Center, it seemed like a no-brainer. Then the Community Center was, as promised, turned into an ugly, soulless warehouse and I every time I passed by it, I felt a little stab of guilt. But in video games, as in life, redemption is always possible. I started a new game, this time knowing in advance that I was going to develop the Community Center no matter how long it took. And it is a bitch. But it’s very gratifying. So far, the Craft Room, the Boiler Room and the Vault are complete. It’s going to be the best Community Center ever, if I could just find a Ghost Fish to appease the wood sprites and get the aquarium repaired.

In the spirit of redemption, here is a song by the beautiful Mary Fahl about just that. This is from an old album, so the video is static, but it’s lovely song that stands alone. I love the line “Redemption can be granted to us/Or granted by us/But I believe it’s due us anyway.”

--Kristen McHenry

1 comment: said...

Very melodic, profound song, Kristen. And a very awesome post!