my mother has short hair.  it’s light brown and gray and is usually an inch long all over her head.  no hairdresser can cut my mother’s hair short enough for her tastes, and three weeks after each trim she is itching to have it cut again, especially when it curls over her ears and sticks out over her collar at the nape of her neck.  when i lived at home, i would come downstairs late at night and, if she was still awake, she would sit on the floor, a towel draped over her shoulders, and i would trim the back and sides of her hair with the orange kitchen scissors.  i got really good at it; i could always cut it just how she wanted, perfectly even and curved.

when i had dinner with my parents tonight, we talked about their retirement plans.  they want to move to rural missouri next year–after my sister and i both graduate–and take part-time jobs or open a small bookstore.  as we ate salad and soup and linguine, we talked about the pros and cons of the two of them retiring–leaving their respective jobs, being without steady income in shaky economic times, leaving friends they’ve had for twenty-five years, leaving me.  i’m having a hard time with the idea that we wouldn’t have monday night dinners anymore, that i couldn’t just drive over to the house to see them, that i’d have to get on a plane.

after dinner it was still light out, and my mother had brought a comb and the orange kitchen scissors.  she sat in the backseat of the exploder with a towel over her shoulders while i trimmed the back and sides of her hair, right there in the parking lot of the restaurant.  “your father won’t do this for me,” she said.
“why not?” i asked.
“he doesn’t think he can get it so it’s even,” she said.
“well,” i said, finishing up and brushing the little hairs off her neck, “who’s going to do it when you move to missouri?”