Warning: Contains Frivolity

Please note that the following post could be termed girly, frivolous, and quite possibly shallow.  If discussion of appearance is not your cup of tea, you might want to skip this one.  😉

All right, if you are still reading, I have a question for you: have you ever made a dramatic change to your appearance while your significant other was deployed?

The “dramatic change” percolating in the back of my mind is a haircut.  Once upon a time, back when my husband and I started dating (*cough-I was sixteen-cough*) I had long hair.  It got progressively shorter over the course of my college career, a little bit longer again before our wedding, and then I chopped it all off into a super-short pixie upon discovering that our brand-new duty station was wont to hit 90° in February.  In the two and a half years since moving back to a part of the country that has sensible seasons, I have let my hair get long again.

It’s not a cute, flowing-tresses kind of long.  It’s a too-lazy-to-get-a-haircut long, with an a dash of haven’t-found-a-stylist-I-like thrown in for flavor.  At least my hair is curly enough to somewhat disguise the fact that I don’t actually have a hairstyle per se, but it is definitely time to cart my mane to a salon.  I can tell, because all I ever do with it is put it up in a frowzy ponytail, a look that does nothing to dissuade people from the mistaken impression that I might be a teenager.

My husband, bless his heart, has never made any controlling noises over my hair.  When I chopped it all off just a few months after our wedding, he took it in stride and still told me I looked cute.  I am not unaware, however, that he prefers my hair longer.  Although he has made it clear that he knows my hair is my own to do with as I please, the fact that I know he likes longer hair has played a part in the past couple years’ grow-it-out venture.  The status quo has been easy to maintain.

Now my husband is getting ready to deploy.  There is a big part of me that wants to mark his departure with a major haircut, perhaps even going as short as the pixie cut I loved so much when we were in Texas.  I mentioned this to my husband, and it turns out that not only is he unsurprised, but he rather assumed that was the plan.  Guess I’ve been a little more transparent about my state of “enh” with longer hair than I thought.  He’s completely at peace with the thing I’ve wanted to do all along!  Woohoo, right?

Well… until my silly brain stepped in to complicate matters, at least.  As we approach his departure date, I find myself running up against a mental snag.  I had initially thought that going in for the Big Haircut was something I would do by myself after he left, symbolic of a fresh start for the upcoming months of living on my own, yadda yadda yadda.  Then I started thinking about our actual goodbye before he flies out to the ship, the last memories we would form of each other before saying, “See you in X months.”

I might actually have a problem with immediately changing my appearance from what my husband would have in mind as his last pre-deployment, in-person mental picture of me.  My, my.  How… sentimental? …of me.

I know everyone changes over the course of a deployment — life goes on, we can’t sit there and stagnate, etc.  I’m just not sure I have it in me to email my husband a picture of my new ‘do along with a message that effectively says (no matter what I might actually type), “Hey honey, you left and now I look completely different from how you remember me!  Hope you recognize your own wife next time we see each other, ha ha!”

There would seem to be a simple solution to a problem that likely exists only in my mind.  My tentative new plan is to get my hair cut before my husband heads out, while he still has a chance to get used to the look beforehand.

Whew.  If you’ve made it this far, thank you, patient Reader, for sifting through the above mountain-out-of-molehill mawkishness.  Ultimately, I do know that it’s just hair, and the wonderful thing about hair is that it (mostly) grows back.  Even if I have a hair “disaster”, it’s not important.

I am still curious as to whether my fellow military spouses have made or thought about making a big outward change during a deployment or other separation.  How did it work out for you?  Would you do it again?  Better yet, do you have any big plans for the next time military exigencies have you spending a big chunk of time away from your love?


10 thoughts on “Warning: Contains Frivolity

  1. k says:

    We haven’t been through a deployment as a married couple, so I haven’t had to deal with such questions, but I’d love to hear what others have to say!

    • I’m really looking forward to hearing what others think about the change-appearance-while-apart issue, too. My hypothesis (based on no data whatsoever) is that people might tend to identify with one of two camps: the “deployment is the best time to make a change” camp and the “I will do all in my power to make sure everything stays just like my spouse remembers it” camp. Or it might turn out that most people are firmly in the middle. My curiosity is certainly piqued. 🙂

  2. I’m the wrong person to say “do what you want with your hair”. I grow mine long partly because it’s WAY too thick and curly to have it shorter than shoulder-length, and partly because Hubby hates it short. I cut it once while he was on a short three monther, and even though he didn’t say it, I could tell he was disappionted. Fortunately, your hubby sounds like he’s on board for the cut.

    Just curious- how big of a change will it be? How many inches are you planning on lopping off?

    • Mine is curly, too, but if I go short enough, the curl is no longer a factor. There are some phases in the awkward middle lengths of growing out that are pretty awful, though. It’s about shoulder-length now, so it would be a significant change if I went with a pixie again. My husband has seen that particular “Ta-daaa! Hair [mostly] gone!” transformation before, so it wouldn’t be the first time he saw me with very short hair. That’s somewhat reassuring.

  3. Well, I did just that. When Joe left, I cut most of my hair off and got blonde highlights. But it was a much more selfish reason than the ones you listed. I needed to have control over SOMETHING!! And in this military life during our first deployment, it seemed like the only thing I had control over was my hair. It was light brown and halfway down my back. And now it’s above my shoulders and pretty blonde. It looked like this when Joe and I met in high school so he’d seen me like this before. And he’s never really had an opinion about my hair, as long as I was happy with it and felt good. And I told him I cut it all off. And even posted pictures online for him. And he said he liked it. But when I went to pick him up at the airport for R&R, he saw me from behind before I saw him, and with the new haircut and new clothes, he didnt recognize me at first. Of course he knew it was me when I turned around and went running to him. But he liked the new “do” in person too.

    I honestly dont think boys care what we do with our hair. As long as I didnt shave my head, Joe wouldnt care.

    • “As long as I didnt shave my head, Joe wouldnt care.”

      That made me giggle. My husband and I have a running joke that whatever I do with my hair is fine as long as it stays longer than his. Since he keeps his very, ah… military-looking (not quite the high-and-tight so favored by our Marine friends, but definitely buzzed short), I have plenty of length leeway. As long as I don’t lose my mind and decide to find out what I look like with a buzz cut, I think I’m good to go. 😉

      For what it’s worth, I don’t think wanting to exert control over some aspect of your life qualifies as a selfish reason. The military has such a huge say in almost every other arena that I think it’s totally natural to want to do something that doesn’t have to be planned around the needs of the service.

      I’m glad Joe liked your new hair! I can understand not immediately recognizing someone from behind no matter how many pictures you’ve seen. That’s part of why I’m leaning towards getting the haircut while my husband has a little time to get accustomed to seeing it.

  4. kirstin_g says:

    I have a very love/hate relationship with my hair. At the drop of a hat, I’m likely to cut it all off or dye it so over the years the hubs has gotten used to my hair related ADD. This last deployment the hubs never knew when he got on skype, what he’d get…while he was deployed I grew it out then cut it short, straightened it, let it go back to normal curls, dyed it what was supposed to be a chestnut brown but ended up being nearly black (which I discovered is a look I can NOT rock), then all kinds of weird shade while trying to get it back to my natural dark strawberry blond.

    The hubs doesn’t mind – like yours he prefers it long but as he’s said, he loves me no matter what and he doesn’t have to take care of it. I’m sure I’ll do it again – well not the black lol.

    I don’t know what I’ll do the next deployment as he’s just returned home from the last but I’m definitely not the “sit home and wait” type. This last time I spent nearly 8 of the 12 months traveling. People said I was nuts especially since we have 2 small boys but they’re portable and they LIKE to travel. We spent time in 21 states over the last year – next time they’ll be a bit older and I’m thinking about trying an international trip. Because I’m you know, nuts.

    • I love that you have had your hair every which way — I haven’t managed to be that adventurous with my tresses, and I have never dyed my hair. I think a different color would come as a shock to… well, everyone I know. And yet, I am just the tiniest bit wistful that I have passed the age where I could get away with dying it electric blue or something. 😉

      Rock the heck on for getting out and traveling, especially with kidlets. I have a few trips planned for when my husband is off seeing the world on a Navy-planned itinerary. It does help to have something a little out of the ordinary to which I can look forward.

      • kirstin_g says:

        While I sometimes entertain the thought of something like hot pink streaks, I think that I’m also passed that age (glad I did do some weird colors though when I was younger). Mainly I keep it to natural (or almost natural lol) colors- helps that my hair is pretty light so it’s easy to change. I’ve always figured that it’s just hair and eventually it will grow back.

        Ordinary is boring 🙂

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