I noticed that as a Hair Cuttery stylist leaned in with his scissors, Zahab was wiping away tears. I asked her later what was going through her mind.
“I was very upset that I have grown my hair for 18 years and, after a few minutes, it would no longer be with me,” she told me.
One of her favorite things was suddenly gone.
But Zahab, 30, went through with it. And then she had to learn to live without her hair.
“It’s really strange, especially a few days in the beginning,” she said. “The first morning I was touching my hair. I was looking: Where is my hair? Suddenly I realized, it’s gone now.”
Zahab and her friend Riya Saran celebrated by going to a water park. For the first time in a very long time, drying her hair wasn’t an ordeal.
There have been other benefits. Zahab is a Pakistan-born squash player and coach. She used to have to pile her hair in a big bun for games. Now her shoulder-length hair is easy to manage. And the other day she was messing with the printer at work and didn’t have to worry about her hair falling into the machinery.
Zahab said she won’t go so long between haircuts in the future. She hopes to grow it long enough to cut it off periodically to donate for children’s wigs. And she’s looking for hair care-related sponsorship opportunities.
Said Zahab: “I have given my hair for a very good cause, but I still miss my hair.”
Not long ago, I wrote about dreams and how they can invade our waking hours. John White of Sterling, Va., brought up a sort of dream we’re all familiar with, what he calls a “frustration” dream.
I think the most common frustration dream involves school: We can’t find our locker. We forgot to study for the test. We didn’t even know we’d signed up for that class. Because we’ve all gone to school, most of us have those sorts of dreams.
John experiences more specific frustration dreams. His background is in fire service, and his dreams blend various aspects of that history, mixing together counties he’s worked in as a firefighter, stations he volunteered at as a teen and old fire equipment from his youth.
“But the story arcs are always similar,” he wrote. “I, or my crew, are dispatched to some kind of emergency, but for some reason we can’t get there. Familiar streets suddenly don’t connect, or we can see it, but when we drive around to the location, it has moved to some other place that we can still see but can’t get to. Or we are blocked by a train at a railroad crossing that never existed before. No matter what, we can never quite reach the incident.”
The dreams are incredibly vivid, chock full of details from John’s chosen profession.
“I would think that law enforcement folks might have similar dreams,” he wrote. “Or even 911 dispatchers, who maybe just can’t get the callers to tell them exactly where an incident is so they can dispatch help. Anyway, it would be interesting to know how common these kinds of dreams are or if people in other fields have similar dreams.”
The work lives of firefighters and police officers certainly provide dramatic dream fodder, but columnists have these dreams, too (deadline looms, no one has returned your calls — wait, that’s reality).
How about you? Do you have dreams that only a fellow plumber, teacher, airline pilot or tax attorney would appreciate? Send the details — with “Job Dreams” in the subject line — to me at email@example.com.
For previous columns, visit washingtonpost.com/john-kelly.