I want to say the idea to dye my locks came solely from me, but as the hair dye soaking into my brunette ends sent a frightening, tingling sensation down my scalp, I knew it had started far earlier.
It began with a breakup. Inevitably cliché, all too predictable, and yet, the ultimate truth.
At first, the thought was fleeting. But soon enough, it was full-fledged and I was sitting in a salon chair ready for change.
My ex opted out after two years during which I repeatedly opted in: into us, into long distance, into scary, intense love. When he walked out of my apartment, he didn't look back… this I know because I waited for it, standing in the November chill in my pajamas.
For months I was the most cliché version of heartbroken, a version I always promised myself I would never be. I was left crying on subway platforms, crowded sidewalks, Whole Foods aisles and Zara fitting rooms, cursing myself for being pathetic and yet unable to be anything else.
I could no longer look in the mirror and see the girl he left behind.
Months passed; fall turned into winter, which slowly became spring and I found myself sitting in a fancy salon chair in downtown Manhattan. The words “I want to look different,” floated off my tongue as if it was a normal request.
My damp eyes were drying, albeit slowly. “Make it drastic,” I said. “I want everyone to see the change."
What I didn't say was that I wanted him to notice. What I didn't say was that I wanted the blonde me to be someone he never had the privilege of knowing. What I didn't say was I could no longer look in the mirror and see the girl he left behind.
I knew he would have never wanted me to dye my hair blonde. He would have hated it; he would have told me not to do it. And so it's exactly what I did.
The blonde me proved over and over that I was a worthy hire, a worthy friend and a worthy woman.
By becoming blonde, I became someone new (in a way). I tested the “blondes have more fun” theory for myself — a theory I never actually believed in. I was living the blonde life, a life I joined to spite him, but a life I ended up living all for myself.
While it's true that blondes turn more heads not only in bars, but also on the streets, what's also true is the turning of those heads instilled the confidence boost I had needed. I was still shattered and single, coming up for air after the depths of heartbreak.
But this time, I was coming up blonde.
The blonde me dove headfirst into first dates, apartment hunting, happy hours and self-confidence. The blonde me barreled my way through milestones such as college graduation, job interviews and the NYC dating scene.
The blonde me proved over and over that I was a worthy hire, a worthy friend and a worthy woman, even if I was no longer worthy of his love.
The blonde me was working on having it all, even without having him.
I never truly believed in the power of a makeover, the power of perfectly winged eyeliner or the power of a box of bleach making my scalp itch as I polished off a glass of wine. But now, I see the power and I believe in the enchantment. I believe in the promise of becoming someone new.
The blonde dye didn't change me; it unearthed me.
Sometimes, you need a change to discover yourself, even if it only uncovers the parts of yourself that went into remission after life threw a few punches your way.
The weather is cooling down, and my roots are ruthlessly coming in. Instead of box-dye, I'm opting for a salon chair once again, ready to go back to brown, after a six-month stint as a blonde.
The blonde dye didn't change me; it unearthed me. It gave me exactly what I needed: The chance to be someone he no longer had a hold on.