Photo credit: Dan McMahon  

Photo credit: Dan McMahon

 

THE BEGINNING

July 06, 2014

When pulled taut, the longest bits of my hair stretched about eight inches. I figure, if your hair grows about half an inch per month, the oldest parts of my top were a year and four months. 

The past 16 months were eventful. Lou Reed died. 'Selfie' is in the dictionary. Lance Armstrong got busted. You can print your own, fully-functional gun online. The pope resigned. The new pope seems great. Edward Snowden. There was an Egyptian military coup. Putin spent over $50 billion to make snow and annexed Crimea.

I had spent the better part of 2013 months ghostwriting a memoir for a professional athlete. At some point the relationship went sour and I was told that I would no longer be a part of the project, thereby losing the remaining $40,000 of the contract; this, after I had just turned in a manuscript of 85,000 words. 

By April of 2014, I decided to move out of my Bed-Stuy apartment. I figured I could use a break from the black hole of ironic self-importance that is Brooklyn, and, as the saying goes, the best part about living in New York is leaving it. Without a home, my intent is to travel the world to meet strangers and learn the minds of many distant men and women. I've never been one to enjoy the prix fixe tourist experience that most foreign adventures provide. Instead, I will gain entry to people and places by playing pickup and document the people on the courts and the periphery of basketball. 

But first, I'd have to remove that part of myself that I carried with me. I decided to chop off my hair before my great basketball odyssey.

 

Photo credit: Dan McMahon

Photo credit: Dan McMahon

I was a little vain about my hair. I have thick, curly locks. My vanity turns to fear when I imagine uncovering a bald spot after shearing myself. When I put a hairband across my head to keep the curls out of my face people occasionally said that I looked like Matthew McConaughey. I'd pretend I didn't like that. But at night I'd scour online photo galleries until I'd find the shot that most resembled me. 

Photo credit: Dan McMahon

Photo credit: Dan McMahon

I took a mirror outside and put it by the gate in front of my stoop. It was an enjoyably hot late June weekend in Brooklyn and my neighbors set up an inflatable pool on the sidewalk for their two-year-old daughter. They lifeguarded while they gossiped about family philandering. They didn't pay much mind to what I did. I think the novelty of quirky white boys wore off a few months into the gentrification of Bed Stuy. 

Photo credit: Dan McMahon

Photo credit: Dan McMahon

Photo credit: Dan McMahon

Photo credit: Dan McMahon

I placed the shorn locks into a paper bag. For some reason I thought it'd be a good idea to send little bits of ribbon-tied hair to ex-girlfriends and former lovers. Looking at my debris I realized that gifting that bit of myself to unsuspecting women was more narcissistic-serial killer-creepy than romantic and mysterious. I put the hair in the backyard for the birds instead. 

Photo credit: Dan McMahon

Photo credit: Dan McMahon

Photo credit: Dan McMahon

Photo credit: Dan McMahon

Photo credit: Dan McMahon

Photo credit: Dan McMahon

I packed my things. Everything that was in my room, over two years worth of New York living, had to go. I shipped the important stuff back to my parents--half-read books and sentimental t-shirts. I left things with friends in Brooklyn and sold my bike. 

I'd begin my odyssey at JFK International Airport and leave for Tel Aviv the next morning. 

Photo credit: Dan McMahon

Photo credit: Dan McMahon

I looked at myself in the mirror for a short moment. Ready as I'll ever be. I packed my things and didn't sleep.

Photo credit: Dan McMahon  

Photo credit: Dan McMahon