My Dearest Hair,
We are less than twenty-four hours away from chopping most of you off.
Well my beautiful locs, we have been here a few times before and yet, I have never experienced as much angst about the eventual chopping as I have experienced this week.
I am certain it’s my age. So much of my bravado has faded in recent years, leaving me to fend for myself in a way which has often left me feeling slightly naked, a little over-exposed and a lot vulnerable.
The past week was filled with so many challenges, particularly in writing. Talk about feeling like I was trudging through mud with heavy chains wrapped around me and oversized boots on my feet …. at the bottom of a sludgy lake. Some writing days felt just like that.
Apparently Fear got loose, went on a joy ride, tumbled roughshod over my fledgling confidence, spray painting the walls of my mind, and laughed maniacally over having usurped the controls once again. She scared me.
I went into another of my panic spirals.
So I began back-pedaling from my decision to cut you, lovely locs. Upon closer inspection, I saw it was nothing more than Fear pranking me.
In previous seasons, I had chopped you off without ceremony. I didn’t want to do that again this time around. No. You see, I’ve been on a deliberate journey of self-discovery and exploration of a deeper Love.
This time around I am giving myself the honor of closer looks at the choices I make. This time around, because I have learned to love myself more, I view you, Hair, as an extension of myself from which I am severing. Cutting you off deserves tribute.
I have said goodbye to enough things (and people) in my life without ceremony, sometimes in anger, sometimes in frustration, and sometimes with deep sadness.
Hubby will do the chopping honors tomorrow. Much of my hair will be gone by the time this post is up.
I vaguely remember choosing to abstain from makeup less than a year after quitting the day job. Not that I wore much– lipstick, nail polish and eyebrow penciling– but it was makeup enough for it to become an eventual bother to me. I finally got to a point where I asked, Who am I wearing this for? I thought it made me feel beautiful to wear, but I finally had to admit that it didn’t …. not really.
Being gone from the peer pressure of daily work life gave me the space I needed to reevaluate my choices. Because the sad and ugly, yet beautiful and promising truth is, I am a black woman living in a society which often rejects my kind in favor of elevating others deemed more lovely.
Therefore, as much progress as have been made in American culture, among us in our ethnic and racial differences, despite the occasional racial factioning and tension, I — and countless other blacks — have had to find our own joy, have had to be deliberate in rooting out the beauty of who we each are, have had to learn to love the skin we’re each in, despite status quo standards. Every day a black person opens her eyes on American soil, we must begin all over again in finding our own beauty and belonging in a society which often reminds us, we may never be enough as we are.
While this may be the sad and ugly truth, it is also beautiful and promising because we Americans are in no way a monolith. Rather, we are each uniquely qualified to be pleasant surprises to one another, moving through the fray with our own minds. And how sweet that is! Black or white, red or yellow, beige or brown, we get to show up hefting our courage and hope in this oft-confusing sea of fear and chaos. We still manage to stand together, many of us, through friendships, through neighborly camaraderie, through blended families, and through good old fashion loving.
As for the makeup, I was finally able to see me through my own lens in middle-age, after worrying for so many decades that I might not look the right part for the space I stood in, be it at work or in social arenas. I gave up the lipsticks, gave up the nail polish and gave up the eyebrow pencils. If I ever use them again it’ll be because I want to, not because I feel the need to.
And now, it’s your turn, Hair. I have loved you dearly. The last time I chopped you all off and grew you back I referred to the new growth as sober hair. You had become an extension of the pride of my sober life. Alas, you and all my other long-hair seasons largely provided the camouflage I needed to hide in plain view of all the people. All of them.
I was afraid I would never be enough, therefore I needed to hide behind whatever little bit of pretty I thought needed mustering. And bravado was along with us for the ride. But when I stopped seething with rage at the general world, bravado left me. I found love, I found forgiveness (of self), and I finally found peace.
Now it’s time for a new season, my sweet Hair. Now it’s time for me to test the waters of this deeper Love, this newly found self-Love.
Thank you for the courage you once gave me. Now I feel solid enough to take it from here.
I love you, sweet Hair. And I will continue to admire you, in your full-bodied glory, on all the gorgeous heads of other women.
Until we meet again,