The Birth of the Warrior

Sunday, May 31st 2020:

Sunday night we drove through DC and Baltimore. Through the twin horrors of Covid-19 and Covid-1619 but our pain was personal. The chemo drugs were taking their toll. The best treatment - a cap designed to keep your head cold and prevent chemo drugs from reaching your scalp - had been designed for caucasian women whose hair falls limp when wet instead of swells. They studied my wife, like an exotic creature they never considered they’d encounter.

At Johns Hopkins University Hospital. In East Baltimore, Murderland. As black people died disproportionally from covid, gunshots, high blood pressure and diabetes they marveled at her kinky hair like they’d never seen it in all their medical training.

The baldness appeared that afternoon three weeks into treatment. In the evening shower my wife sobbed uncontrollably as half her hair rolled from her head. Another insult of being other to add to the list.

She presented herself and, through her sobs, asked me to cut the rest off and spare her this unbearable process. Through her tears, and mine, I shaved the hair my wife loved so much.

She said she “looked like a boy”. So I kissed her. I told her I loved her and that she was fiercely beautiful. We'd had this conversation before. My words were "nice" but I was "contractually obligated to say nice things". So I told her I’d show her.

When I’d shaved her head I set up the camera and told her I’d like to take some pictures. My wife is a performer and it's those moments that she's able to not think and just act. And it's those moments that I can take some photos and show her how I see her rather than just tell her she's beautiful.

She’d performed in a Dora Milaje inspired outfit that was perfect for turning her new found baldness into a badge and birthing her new character. In front of the camera with only a wisp of hair big enough for 2 twists, 3 max - she transformed. I love the way the photos turned out and knew that night we'd captured some magic. One day we’ll look back at the scars of May 31st 2020 and remember how it forced us to summon strength we didn’t know was in us.

Conscripted Unfiltered