Keeping What I Can

I first got my eyebrows threaded at my mom's insistence during my junior year of college. We were walking around a Christmasfied mall — the best in Northern California — when her quiet suggestion became a stern assertion. So I sat my ass down and got ready for the pull.

My eyebrow form is now my greatest pride and insecurity. I make sure to get them threaded the very day of any long anticipated OkCupid dates, and more often than not, too soon before they're ready to be shaped again. And every time I am caught with embarrassment and surprise when my threader asks, “Would you like me to do your mustache as well?”


We were told never to take a Ouija board from it's original home, so we left it in a place we hoped might scare the new home owners.


I've witnessed this question directed at others from the sidelines. At a small salon on a university block in Manhattan, a youthful young lady had her eyebrows done between classes. And just like I've done before, she asked with fear, “Do you think I need to?”  

Needs and wants have become quite nebulous since moving to NYC. I often need to go to a bar to socialize after a long day of writing in dark, empty rooms. But I often want to give my stomach a break from the constant, acidic flow post-work drinks. I often want to go home to make myself a large, cheap meal, but need to both find and consume 500 calories within a 15 minute window. The privileged life of convenience often comes at the expense of ourselves.

Back in California, many Christmases and mall trips later, my parents left my childhood home in favor of a smaller mortgage. My sisters and I sat upon the floors of our old bedrooms, trying on drill team uniforms and digging through family board games. We were told never to take a Ouija board from it's original home, so we left it in a place we hoped might scare the new home owners.


I threw away hundreds of issues of the The New Yorker that I'd read poolside during California summers, dreaming of a fulfilling future in which I actually understood what the magazine was talking about.


I burned a letter from my college boyfriend listing the things he loved about me (three of the items: “titz”), I donated an electric guitar from my high school parody band (we're still on MySpace), and I threw away hundreds of issues of the The New Yorker that I'd read poolside during California summers, dreaming of a fulfilling future in which I actually understood what the magazine was talking about.

Perhaps the hardest part of this moving purge, however, was the tossing of my 20-year-old furniture, bought for my oldest sister and repainted by me with enough layers of color to increase its size. Three-thousand miles away, I live out of stacked bin boxes. I want a dresser. I need to find one on this side of the country.

And while I am still unsure whether or not my upper-lip hair poses a distraction when I'm faced with it each time by my chosen Manhattan threader, I now know with certainty my answer to her question.

“Do you want me to do your mustache?”

“No thanks. I need to keep what I can.”