Tuesday, 7 June 2011

The Rain in Spain... was non-existent thankfully !

Yes, I'm back. My sojourn in Spain was surely a brief but exciting one. A relaxing break ? well, it was not to be since I spent many a day holed up in a room reviewing the work of photographers. But, I did manage to steal some time away to sun my poor post-chemo'd body on the hotel's brand-new roof terrace. I made sure that at least on one night, I ate a tasty selection of traditional tapas, surrounded by the cacophony of shouts, laughter and intensely loud conversations of the madrilenos. I ventured out to eat meals at a time when I would have normally been tucked up in bed in the UK. Still firmly sporting my close-cropped silver shaved head, I was delighted to be stopped by a local man accompanied by a child in a pushchair, and asked if I was a photographic model !  Ok, well he did continue to tell me that he was looking for a black model with a shaved head for 'art' photography and with that continued to make a growling noise. This rather instantly made me think of this rather iconic image of the indomitable Grace Jones in the heyday of her career...

I guess that I'm just too long in the tooth to not feel suspicious when the word 'art' is used in the context of photographing women. But, if I tell myself that perhaps he was the next Mario Testino in the making temporarily struck by a bolt of inspiration when he saw me, then my self-esteem and confidence soars to no end.

But more surprisingly, I did not miss my hair. Neither wig nor headscarf accompanied me on my Spanish trip. I relied only on my shaved pate to get me through introductions, viewings, socialising and general sight-seeing. Of course, some people stared. But I put this more down to the fact that they're just aren't that many black women in Madrid. And even less of them have shaved heads. I found (and this is something that Cosmopolitan or any of those other so-called 'empowering' women magazines never mention) just how easy it is to have a shaved head. No more mornings desperately fighting with hair that won't do what it's told. No more twisting, untwisting, or wrapping it up at night to keep moisture in. No heavy bottles of moisturisers and gels. I think I must have added an extra two hours a week to my life. Only once, did I feel self-conscious. I bumped into a colleague associated with my work. He exclaimed when he saw my new hairstyle (which I had forgotten that I had) and I immediately panicked inside. Words like chemo, cancer and hair loss all swirled around my head while I wondered how much I should tell him. Should I just lie and pretend that I cut my hair like this on purpose ? Fortunately, he assumed the latter and after his initial surprise, never mentioned it again. That I have to say, was the only time that I was transported back to Cancerland during the whole time I was there. I temporarily left behind my duties as a mother, a patient and an employee. I became myself again. And I loved every minute of it.

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