The Cost of Getting the Hair of Your Dreams

I always wanted to go purple. But fabulous doesn’t come cheap.

from the Hunger Games Wikia page

Overall I’m not an impulsive person. I like when my life has a familiar rhythm and I am overly cautious about anything that involves money. I’ve eaten the same work breakfast every day for the last five years and I get the same planner from Paper Source every December. (It’s color-coded.) I still watch “Grey’s Anatomy” 12 seasons in. It took me six years to commit to buying the iPad I thought about buying at least once a week.

When I’m in crisis, everything changes. My first serious boyfriend broke up with me at 23, and I moved to a city in a new state two weeks later. After my mom died from a cancer that ate her up in less than a year and left me an orphan at 26, I bought overpriced dishes from Anthropologie and quit my job. And after my therapist of eight years, Marcie, passed away unexpectedly in February, I decided to get purple hair.

I used to think my patronus would be Amy Schumer or a cronut but now I think it’s probably Marcie with her dyed red hair and rediscovered love of dance in her 50s and the way she got me to laugh at my unreasonably anxious thinking. Whenever I was apprehensive about trying something she would ask, “What’s the worst that can happen?” I would usually respond, “Death.” Trying standup comedy? Death. Trying online dating? Death. Trying to exercise on the regular? Death. Then we’d figure out what the Real Worst Thing was and deal with that (in order: embarrassment, rejection, and still death).

I’ve wanted purple hair since I was in high school but back then in my small town that would have meant I was Wiccan or really into Hot Topic. Also, my mom thought it was a terrible idea. She insisted I keep my bangs and get blond highlights instead. (I’ve always been very easy to talk into or out of any decision.) I once tried to give myself red highlights in college with a box of dye from CVS and it came out slightly eggplant and I was thrilled. Then a lot of my friends gave me sad-face while exclaiming that my hair looked so purple that I thought maybe purple hair wasn’t a good look for me.

In the last few years, though, beautifully colored hair has been popping up everywhere. It’s like we’re in the Hunger Games and everywhere I look are the citizens of Panem. I started to revisit purple hair through Pinterest boards. I mentioned purple hair to a friend and she remarked that it is very on trend right now. Maybe I could be on trend! (For once?)

I made excuses and waffled for another six months. How much money is it worth spending to have purple hair? What if I do it and all of my hair falls out and everyone sees that I actually have a Charlie Brown head? What if the colorist messes up? Death. It could all end in death.

Then Marcie was hit by a car while crossing the street on her way to the gym, and I made an appointment for purple hair. It turns out my fears had some truth to them: my colorist screwed up and my hair was magenta for a week. Still, my hair hasn’t fallen out (so far) and I think it is mostly worth the money because every time I catch a glimpse of it, I can picture Marcie rolling her eyes at me and saying, “See? It always works out. You’re going to be okay.”

I have to keep reminding myself, now more than ever as I grieve for Marcie, I’m going to be okay.

The Actual Cost of Getting the Hair of your Dreams:

· Overdue haircut with long-time stylist to ask for her blessing: $80

· Tip for stylist: $20

· Consult with colorist she recommended: $0

· Virgin Bayalage & single (double?) process (words had lost meaning): $350

· Tip for colorist: $75

· Pint of Ben and Jerry’s while crying over my awful magenta hair: $5.79

· Color-safe shampoo and conditioner from CVS: $15.98

· Sobbing over my awful hair but really over the complete lack of control we have in our lives and this one sliver of control I attempted to take with my hair that had gone horribly awry: $0

· Second appointment with colorist to try again: $0

· Tip for colorist for finally giving me the joy of perfect purple hair, and my sanity: $20

· Tip for guy that washed my hair and gave me the best blow out of my life: $20

· Salon-quality color-safe products to keep my newly perfect hair in tip-top shape so it doesn’t fade in a month, aka the cost of allaying my fears: $140

Total cost of finally living out my teenage fantasies: $726.77

It’s me!

Nicole L lives in Boston, MA and most of her energy is spent on the 3 Cs: Cats, Comedy, and Caffeine. You can find her on Instagram @nicole1983ml

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