The other day Joey emptied all of our video cassette tapes from their boxes. He made sure each box had an opening at its top and bottom and he slid the boxes on his arms and legs. Each arm and each leg had a display of about three boxes. He looked a bit like a robot, his arms and legs held firm by boxes. He shuffled when he walked and he created all sorts of stories about these boxes. Mostly, they were “protectors.” Like armor, maybe. He likes knights and swords lately so it makes sense.
Joey wore his boxes with me to the grocery store. He struggled into the van and managed to buckle himself into his car seat. When we arrived at the store and he was wobbling through the parking lot, he said, “Let’s see how many people look at me.” He knew people would look. He knew his attire was different and out-of-the-ordinary and he wondered what reaction he would get. And people did look. Some smiled and some had blank stares. Before long, Joey peeled his boxes off — he was starting to sweat — and walked through Publix as he usually does, asking for cookies and candy and balloons.
I wish it was easy for me to remove my wig and walk freely in public with my short, dark, and curling hair. Something makes me not ready. I know part of it is that I don’t love what I see when I look in the mirror. My whole appearance is different. I feel naked without my shoulder-length, blond hair. I wish I could see this time in my life as a new beginning, with a new look. But instead I feel self-conscious and hesitant to unveil what lies beneath my borrowed hair and hat.
I wish I was more like Joey. I wish I could walk into the grocery store, proud of my new hair and eager to test reactions. One day.