Before that change, I cried for five months straight and suffered in silence until I got over the breakup. I swallowed in the pain like a bad-tasting meal and forced myself to smile, even though, deep down, I felt like a balloon bobbing around in the sky without direction that someone had just let go.
I practiced making lists of things to be grateful for, hoping it would shift my focus, but this only made me feel better temporarily. I went out with my girlfriends dancing, but coming home to an empty apartment after made me feel lonelier, especially when the only sound I could hear was a loud air conditioner, sighing.
Someone suggested taking meditation again so I sat on my hardwood floor in lotus position, trying to, but my restless mind would flutter around like a butterfly, jumping from idea to idea.
Then one day, as I was leafing through a fashion magazine, I stumbled across an Alice and Olivia ad featuring a stunning redhead surrounded by a sea of roses with hair that looked more like dancing flames.
I tore out the ad and tacked it to my inspiration board in my office. Something about her mane made sense, but I didn’t know what or why until a few days later when I ran across the story of a mythological creature known as the phoenix on a random site, which I can’t even recall the name of anymore.
I was doing one of my self-help Internet searches for positive stories about starting your life over when I began to read about this bird who dies in a show of flames and obtains new life by rising from the ashes of its predecessor. I read the story over and over until I decided it was time to shed the old me.
I made an appointment with my hairdresser, Janet, who I have been going to for years and took the ad with me.
“Can you give me this hair?,” I asked her. “What? Are you sure you want to do this color?,” Janet asked, almost frightened.
“Yes. I am 100 percent sure. I’ve never been more ready for a change,” I responded.
“You’re going to look completely different, but if you are really ready, than let’s do it,” she said.
“I’m really ready,” I said, excitedly.
It took hours to dye and wash and dye again, and wash and then, finally, she walked me to the salon chair and with a quick tug unraveled my long cherry-hued hair.
My heart raced a little as she began to move the blow dryer across my head and the vibrant color began to show more and more. When it was all dry, Janet stood behind me like an eager student waiting for a grade on her performance.
I sat in silence for a whole minute. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, or what to feel. Till someone in the salon belted out, “It looks beautiful.” A few other women chimed in with, “I love it,” and, “it’s awesome.” Then all of sudden, I just got up and gave Janet a hug.
"Thank you,” I told her. “Thank you for making me feel beautiful again.”
I walked out of the salon like a new woman, bursting with confidence and ready to start my life over. I first shared the news with my parents. I was nervous about their response. Well, mostly my dad.
He’s pretty conservative and kind of old school. I took a few selfies, hit send, and held my breath. A few minutes later my dad quickly texted back with, “You look like a beautiful Irish woman.” I laughed. I hadn’t expected him to like it, much less crack a joke about it.
Now it was time to tell my followers and friends. I posted a peek on Instagram, starting with the back of my hair. It was received with positive reviews and requests to see the front.
I waited a couple of hours to post my face, and bam got 604 likes and about 50 something comments from viewers. All good, thank God.
It’s been six months since I’ve been a red head now and I’ve never had so much fun. I get compliments all the time from both male and female strangers.
I never got that when I was a blonde. I find women are way nicer to me now. When it comes to men, I even get asked on more dates than ever before. Men, I’m beginning to understand, are utterly fascinated with red hair — and it’s all kinds of men, a complete cultural melting pot of bachelors who go out of there way to celebrate it. Whether it’s the college kid bagging my groceries, the successful business man toting his briefcase on the street, or the musician strumming the guitar during a live performance, my hair get a whole lot of love. I don’t think I’ll ever go back to blonde again.
I’m thinking maybe lilac next. Why? Well, why not? Life is too short not to have fun.
Annie Vazquez is a Founding Creator and fashion blogger. When she's not writing for Vivala.com, you can find her at thefashionpoet.com.