At a retreat in Ramona recently, I met two new friends. At the top of a nearby mountain stood a large white cross, so we decided to hike up the path to it. All three of us are women in long-term recovery from alcoholism and drug addiction, and we told each other some of our “war stories” as we ascended.
One of the women, I’ll call her Carole, was yakking on and on about her repeated attempts to get clean and sober. She claimed she had been in more than 20 different facilities, rehabs, sober livings, recovery homes and detoxes. Carole described her former attitude and unwillingness to apply suggested avenues for change. She related her tales about a number of failed dysfunctional relationships with various men. We listened and walked as the trail wound around the back of the mountain, up a rocky path past grasses and low shrubs.
As we reached the top of the trail, the view was spectacular. I was used to seeing Ramona from the 67 to the 78/79, keeping an eye out for speed traps, and not much else. But Ramona has lakes and ranches and communities and wilderness which stretched for miles in every direction. I was snapping photographs when our other hiker, I’ll call her Ellen, spoke up. After listening to Carole’s tragic stories, I was glad to hear from someone else.
“Well, you think that’s something, let me tell you my experience. In early recovery I was standing outside an NA meeting when this gorgeous man rode up on his Harley. I was immediately interested, and as he got off that bike I thought to myself: ‘Man! He is fine! The only thing that would make this better is if he has long hair!’ And as he undid the strap from under his chin and grabbed that helmet off his head...”
“He UNFURLED his hair!” Carole interrupted.
Ellen looked at us and laughed. “You betcha! Of course I got to know him and we romped around together until he left town. We wrote letters to each other for a while. One day he told me that he lost his job. In order to find another he decided to CUT HIS HAIR.”
She was quiet then, pausing for effect. I took a deep breath and waited. I noticed the wind was picking up, cooling the air around us.
“So what’d ya do?” Carole took the bait.
“I wrote back to him and told him since he sold out to the establishment I didn’t want to be his girlfriend anymore. I had fallen in love with him because of his hair and then he went and CUT IT OFF!”
Thinking of my own history with men, I kept quiet.
Ellen continued. “Years later, when I was writing my personal inventory, I realized what I had done. I was being judgmental, superficial and narrow-minded. And I had faulted him for conforming to society’s standards at the time! I think I threw away the best man I ever met, all because of a haircut.”
This time, Carole was quiet.
“Come on, let’s go. We’ll be late for lunch.” We took one last look around and headed back down the trail.