TRACEY, IN TIME
c1998 jmhlhl

I first met Tracey in Chicago, eleven years ago. I was new in town, and she was one of the first and few friendly faces I met at the company. We worked for a small sales firm in the Loop, Chicagoís business district. I was coming in as an outsider, looking to take charge of a team responsible for the Northeast US. My reception was chilly, to say the least, as many if the firm thought my new job should have gone to someone inside the company.

Tracey was different. She worked in the west coast team in the next room over from us. She was helpful from the start. While my team was busy giving me the eye, checking me out, Tracey showed me some of the ropes, and helped me get settled in town.

She was also kinda cute, in a different sort of way. She was tall, about 5'10", and took care of herself. She was a bit hippy and fairly flat-chested. She was also bright and enthusiastic, with a sense of mischief and adventure, and all of this was reflected in her face - a great smile and lively eyes that lit up a room. She also had a great mop of jet black hair that just about fell to her shoulders. She usually wore it styled in a flip, and tucked it behind her ears.

We had a great friendship, and went out on what I guess you might call 'dates', but romance never really happened. Both of us felt pretty uncomfortable taking that step, so it was kind of unspoken that we wouldnít try.

One time, we went out for dinner after a particularly hectic Friday. I had been there about six months, and Tracey and I were definitely 'buddies' by this point. Now I have to admit Iím what you would call a 'hair man' - the longer the better. A dream of mine was always to be madly in love with a Rapunzel. But I also admired a great looking head of shorter hair, and Traceyís hair was about the best Iíd ever seen for its length. As we sat at dinner, her hair kept falling out from behind her ears and into her face. She would absently bring her hand up and tuck the offending locks back behind her ear. Her hair was all one length - no bangs for this girl. The ends were curled up slightly into a flip. She looked 'perky', as perky as 5'10" could look.

After tucking her hair back behind her ear for about the thirtieth time, she said, "I should really cut this a little shorter." Just the opening I wanted to talk about her hair. While I really liked her hair the way it was, I saw potential for something a lot better. I have to admit that I had fantasized about Tracey, but about her hair. Often when I looked at her, I imagined that thick black hair falling to her waist. She always looked beautiful in my mind, no, stunning. So I spoke up.

"Why?"

"What?"

"Why do you think you should cut your hair shorter?"

"You see it getting in the way, itís a little tough to control."

"I think it looks great."

"I donít know, I think I need something shorter."

"Have you ever thought of growing it longer?"

"Longer?" she asked. "Why longer?"

"I think you would look fabulous with longer hair," I said. "It would frame your face, and I just think it would look natural on you."

"How long?"

"I donít know, maybe halfway down your back or to your waist."

"Thatís a lot of hair!"

"You have a lot of hair, and it has a lot of potential, in my opinion."

"But you wouldnít have to take care of it."

"I donít think it would be that bad. I think it would be a little easier to control."

"Well, maybe..."

"Tracey, Iím sitting here imagining you with hair to your waist, and I think you would look stunning, but then Iím prejudiced towards long hair."

Tracey just sat there, quietly thinking. After a couple of seconds, I said, "Think about it before you go and get a haircut. I think you would like it." And then she changed the subject.

She didnít get a haircut right away, or for the next couple of months, but she did something else drastic. She took a job in Europe, in Prague to be exact. She had always wanted to spend some time in Europe, and when an opportunity came, she jumped at it. So less than a year after I met her, my best friend in Chicago was leaving, and going a long way away. As I watched her walk away from me at the airport her great hair was bouncing back and forth with her lively step.

We did pledge to stay in touch, and promised to set aside some time for each other when she came back stateside to visit.

She came back to Chicago for the first time almost a year later a changed woman. All I had to do was look at her walking into the restaurant to see that Prague was doing wonders for her. Her perkiness was being replaced by a sophistication, yet she still had her fun and mischievous streak. She also had longer hair, about five inches below her shoulders. It looked great! Our evening went way too fast, and I couldnít help but stare at her hair, though I never said anything. She kept it tucked behind her ears, but it constantly fell forward, and slipped over her shoulders. I loved watching her push it back off her face.

Each of the next two years we met again for dinner, and both times we went well into the next morning catching up on everything that was going on in our lives. She was loving Prague, and finding time to travel around Europe. She was also continuing to grow her hair, much to my delight. I remember her walking into the restaurant with her hair up in a chignon. About halfway through dinner, she unconsciously undid her hair, and I saw it tumble down her back and billow out behind her.

She seemed genuinely sorry for the distraction. "Oh, Iím sorry about that. Not something I should do at the dinner table!"

"Thatís OK," I said, or should I say squeaked. "Your hair looks great."

"Thanks. Iíve been letting it grow for a while. I think it might be getting too long, though. Iíve never had hair like this."

"Not at all," I answered, my senses on full alert as always when the words 'long' and 'hair' are mentioned in the same sentence. "I think it looks good on you."

"I thought you might say that..." She smiled. "You were the first one to suggest I grow it."

"But you didnít grow it because of me, did you?" I said, jokingly.

"Oh, no, though I thought about what you said alot."

"Would you mind me asking me why you let it grow? Iím just curious, but donít want to pry." Actually, in this case I wanted very much to pry!

"Well, it was a couple of things. I did want a change, to look a little more mature. But I wasnít sure shorter hair would do that for me, so I thought Iíd try it longer."

"Well I agree with that."

"The clincher was a woman I saw at Water Tower Place about a week before I left for Prague. Cathy and I were having lunch at a deli when this woman with the most incredible hair walked in. I could just sense it - the whole tone of the dining room changed- and the place got much quieter, and a lot of people watched her walk in. Her hair was well past her knees, and looked perfect. Even Cathy got caught up in it. I remember she said ĎWow, look at her hair!í I saw something different. I saw how she brought the room to a stop without saying a word. I thought that was more incredible than her hair."

"Do you want to do that?"

"I did then, but Iím not sure Iíd have the patience to stick with growing hair like that. Itís kind of a dream of mine, to have hair that grabs attention like that, but Iím not sure it would be worth the effort."

I put on my most sincere face and said, "I hope you can realize your dream. Long hair looks great on you. You were meant to have long hair, in my opinion. I think it would definitely be worth it. From here, itís worth it now."

It certainly was worth it. I had never seen hair that length that was so vibrant and silky, and so right for the woman who had it. It was getting close to her waist, and showed no signs of thinning out. When we hugged and finally said goodbye, I found myself turned on, and wanting her. My hands lingered in her hair longer than they should have, but I couldnít help myself.

I didnít see Tracey again for four years. We stayed in touch, writing occasional letters, and she sent me a picture once, but she stayed in Prague. She wrote that she was seeing a guy, an expatriate from California, and things got pretty serious between them. Then there was nothing for about a year. I was a little worried about her.

Then one day out of the blue, she called. I remember it because I had just come back from a business trip to Boston, a very fruitful business trip. "Hey, lets get together," she said. "I have to spend a week in New York, maybe we could see a show, do the town, catch up on all the good stuff." So I met her in New York, even arranged to pick her up at the airport.

Her flight was delayed, so I paced the concourse. A lot of things went through my mind. Four years was a long time, but the memory of her at our last dinner together was still vivid. Her smile, her eyes, her hair... The urges came back. I wondered what she would look like, what she would be like after four years. Mind you, we were just friends, but the night she called, my fantasies ran wild.

I didnít see her come off the plane. Thatís because a kid spilled his juice on my pants. When I finally stood up after that episode, she was in front of me. My heart jumped. She looked beautiful, better than I could have imagined. Four years made a huge difference. Gone was the gangly, hippy college girl. In her place was a stunning, slim career woman. She smiled - that hadnít changed - but her eyes betrayed a lot of sadness. Her hair was up in a chignon, a big chignon, so her hair looked like it was longer than the last time I saw it in person.

We did all kinds of fun things in New York for three days. As long as we were concentrating on something besides her, she was happy, laughing and delightful. But she turned sad when we talked about her time in Prague. She broke up with the guy from California about six months before. They were even engaged, and the breakup was bad. She never cried in front of me, but I could tell she took it hard.

I spent most of the weekend hoping and wishing she would let her hair down, but she kept it up whenever we were together. It was driving me crazy, but I tried my best to hide it. Our last night, she finally let it down. After a couple of busy nights sampling the New York night life, we decided on a quiet, somewhat dressy dinner at an out of the way restaurant in the Village. It was, dare I say, romantic. When she answered her hotel room door, I about lost it. Her hair was magnificent - silky, shiny, straight - and all the way to the middle of her thighs, with just a hint of curl at the ends. Her light blue dress set off her tresses wonderfully.

When I regained my senses, I managed to whisper, "Tracey, you look just beautiful; and your hair, my goodness, you really let it grow!"

She murmured, "Thanks," and took my arm. We went off to dinner, and what was to be the turning point in our relationship. We stayed at the restaurant until 1am, then returned to the hotel. I had to fly out very early in the morning, so this was goodbye for probably a year.

At her door, we stood very close. All I could see, all i wanted to see was her face, framed by black silk. I remember saying, "This feels like a date."

"A wonderful date," she replied, and then we kissed.

That kiss stayed on my lips for a whole year, until we met again, this time in LA. She had to go there for business, but this time we tacked on an extra week for each other. We traded e-mails almost daily, and it was obvious to me that she was looking forward to our meeting as much as I did, and this was going to be a special week.

Her hair was down to just past her knees, and she shared it with me more and more as the week went on. She kept it down most of the time, and let me brush it every evening. I had a hard time telling who enjoyed it more, her or me. Her hair was so soft and silky, I knew I could never tire of its touch. It was simply the most amazing hair I had ever seen, and it was flowing through my hands like silk.

By our last night in LA, we both knew we were in love. Saying goodbye was going to hurt. I knew I wanted to get as much of her incredible hair as I could. I couldnít keep my hands out of it. That didnít seem to bother Tracey one bit. She was enjoying it.

Paraphrasing myself for the fiftieth time this trip, I said, "Have I told you today how beautiful your hair is, Tracey? It is just magnificent. Is it worth it to you now?"

"I love it," she said. "The longer it gets, the more I love it. You bet it is worth it!"

"Iím glad you think so. Iíve never seen anything like it." I paused and looked into her eyes.

"Iím going to miss you."

"Me too," she said. "Iíll come back as soon as I can, but remember, while we are waiting to see each other again, my hair will be growing even longer..."

"Small but wonderful compensation. How long to you want to grow it?"

"I donít know. My ankles, the floor, I think Iíll know when it is long enough." How else could I answer that, but to just say, "I love you."

She came back from Prague for good six months later, and moved to Chicago. Three months after her return, she moved in with me. I helped her with her hair every night, and neither of us tired of the routine. To celebrate our first year living together, we took a long weekend trip to New York. We saw a little less of the City, and a little more of our hotel room, but I made her promise to set aside our final night there. She kind of knew what I was up to, but she was a little surprised nonetheless when we went to the same restaurant in the village that we stopped at a few years back, the place where our friendship turned into love.

I dressed up as much as I could, with a jacket, white turtleneck, and a boutonniere we picked up along the way. Tracey looked absolutely stunning in a low cut, mid length red dress and her hair in itís full glory, falling to within a few inches of her ankles. All one length, silky, shiny, jet black perfection. It seemed alive, as it reflected the light and swayed as she walked. She was smiling, here eyes sparkled, she was radiant.

We stepped into the restaurant, and after a few moments, the maitre d' led us to our table. As he was pulling her chair out, I touched her waist gently, put my face into her hair at her ear, and whispered, "Do you feel it?"

"What?"

"Do you feel it?"

"Feel what?"

"The room," I said. I pulled away and helped her sit down. She had become quite good at reaching behind her to pull her hair forward over her shoulder so she could drape it across her lap.

"So?" she replied once she was settled.

"The room, Tracey. It came to a stop as we walked through. Everybody stopped eating and talking to look at the most beautiful woman theyíve ever seen."

"Oh!" she exclaimed softly, her hand covering her mouth, her eyes lighting up in recognition. "You remembered. You remembered my story!"

She looked at me, then down at the hair draped across her lap. After a moment, she looked back at me, beaming.

I smiled back and took her hand. "I think your dream just came true."

My dream came true a little later that night when Tracey answered "yes" to one special question.

Now, six months after our wedding, and eleven years since we first met and she started growing her hair, Traceyís magnificent tresses fall to within an inch of the floor. In fact, she is on the horns of a dilemma, one which I am having a lot of fun helping her solve. To grow or not to grow, that is the question. One side of her wants to keep her hair at ankle length, the other side wants to keep it growing as long as it can. I have agreed with every single point she has brought up to either argument, something that drives her crazy. We usually explore the pros and cons of this dilemma in great depth in bed.

Ah, dreams! Sometimes it takes a while, but donít you just love it when they come true?
 
 

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