One week from today I'll be as old as I've ever been.
On one hand, this is exciting and invigorating - 2018 has not been a walk in the park but your girl is still standing. I've been through tough times before and bounced back - I'm currently at a master student level in the art of resilience. I'm a business owner doing something I love. I'm in a relationship with a man (and his daughter) that brings me much joy. My friendships are operating at a very high level of support. And thank God my family is still kicking strong - Granny, momma, auntee team, sisters, cousins, nephews and nieces thriving. I attribute my ability to see this things in such a positive light is a sign of my maturity and for this growth I am proud and grateful.
But then there's the other hand...
I've been fortunate. The aging process has not affected me much. While I'm no longer the straight up size 6 girl I was for years (a whole lot of years but none in the last two or three decades but I hold the memory of size 6 DaVida as my standard of when I was poppin'), I don't look bad. I'm fortunate to have skin that doesn't tell the secret of my age - I've got a wrinkle or two but y'all know black doesn't crack so I'm good there. My knees are rickety and don't like bending but again I dealt with that dilemma in my 30s. I went to a wedding recently and saw people that knew me best in my younger days. Quite a few commented that I still looked the same or hadn't aged at all. I agree with them on most days. On those days, my hair is in braids or pulled back. My hair is the one thing that is aging a bit ahead of its time. My beautiful tresses are losing their deep dark tone and being replaced my an onslaught of unruly, does what it wants white stuff that I guess is the part where my grey hair takes over.
I am not a fan.
For the record, I knew this day would come. My people have white hair. Full heads of beautiful cottonesque white hair. My great uncle used to slick his back with Vidal Sassoon. My great grandfather wore his out and proud. But the women in my life were different. My Granny is 40 years my senior and this is her first year of growing out her signature red dyed hair to reveal her white. My great aunt is wearing her white hair straightened into a classic bob. My great great aunt wears beautiful natural wigs that reveal salt and pepper hair. The youngest of them is in her mid 60s so they are of the opinion I should dye my hair for 40 more years. At least that's my Granny's opinion. I thought this would be the case and my strategy for dealing with hiding my hair.
This mess of white hair didn't come overnight. I've had some stray greys over the years but I have also been a hair color enthusiast that didn't hesitate to go get a new hue. I've donned blue-black, mahogany, fiery red, purple, green and even pink hair. Since moving back to Los Angeles in 2014, I've opted to stop coloring. L.A. in general is expensive and getting good color costs money and time for maintenance. I have not been experiencing overflow in either of those areas since coming back to LaLaLand -the rent is too damn high to be worried about coloring my hair. It began by missing a retouch appointment here or not going to the salon for a few months there. Then I decided to do protective styles for growth. For a year and a half, the growing out my dye/grey situation was manageable. When the color grew out and was a mess, I did what I could on my own by using box dyes. The first one was cool but then my hair started laughing at Garnier and 2-3 weeks post dye it popped up like folk at Trump rallies - white AF.
Everyone has some thing that has become synonymous with their idea of their personal beauty. For me it's been my hair. You might not have known me to be be the prettiest, but I've always had the best hair...and eyebrows which are equally wack AF right now but I digress again. Anyway, since the first time I got my hair did by Ms. Boogie back in the day, I knew that I had some "good hair". Over the years that trend has continued but now that I'm as old as I've ever been, can that still be the case with this white stuff on my head?
This morning I read a great Long Read about a woman's decision to stop dying her hair. Her story is well-written and very insightful. I was hoping that I'd be inspired by her story and just embrace my hair and move on. But there are strong differences between her life and mine. Something about where she is in her life seems to indicate she has accepted and is ok with aging. I am not at that place. Also her decision to stop dying links to her feminist ideals. Again we do not align there-Andre 3000 said it ain't about your clothes its about yo' self so I don't succumb to changing my look for my causes. The truth is I did not decide to stop dying my hair. It just became an activity I no longer enjoy participating in.
Another big difference between the author and I is that I am Black and I do feel we deal with our appearance more radically than our counterparts of different races (might I reference the Fubu episode of S2 of Atlanta). We have a lot riding on how we look and I'm very concerned about how letting this grey hair do what it do will affect my life. When a man goes grey, he's more distinguished, respected and is a silver fox. Will I get the same reception?
I've set up my biannual hair appointment (side note: I get my braids done frequently but a true hair salon visit is a rare event). I scheduled a deep condition treatment, a trim and a rollerset. No dye. I'm going to give this grey a lil bit more time...
Excited, anxious, inquisitive about this next chapter in my personal hairstory.