Sunday, November 13, 2005

Death of a Blonde: A Sacramental Hair Tale

I met her near the end of the summer when we still had those long, languid August days that stretch out and yawn 'til almost 10 pm. I needed her. I needed her sunshine hair to keep winter away. That's when I fold into myself. That's when the frost covers my soul. Every winter season that passes a little bit more of me dies. She was a welcome diversion.

Time soldiered on and I turned 41 on the day September was born. She still delighted me then. She kept me awake and fighting, and I called her blondilocks. That September, blondes really did have more fun. I can testify to that.

By October the darkness crept closer. Her roots sprung up, black as earth, reminding her of fallow ground, of death, and of burial. I knew it wouldn't be long, but I didn't want to let her go.

Yesterday, I found myself in the coolest place. It was an art gallery, bookstore, natural hair salon, boutique, and bath and body shop. It was all in one building, and it didn't even have walls to separate the business. You can see all around, and the women who run the place, all dreadlocked and fine, conducted their businesses like a well-oiled machine. It was cooperative, affirming, and beautiful. It smelled good, too. A place like that inspires a woman to take care of herself. I'd have stayed for hours, but I had all my girls with me, and Aziza and Abeje were getting restless. Nia wanted to sit outside and watch the pigeons. She said "They have human immunity." I still have no idea what she meant. I pulled them all together, and finally we got out of there. But I wished to go back as soon as I hustled them out the door. Something good and winsome hovers there, and I wanted to be a part of it.

By the time I got home, I knew it was time to say goodbye. So, I made some reSOULutions and worked up my courage. It wouldn't be long.

Today, I got to meet the Archbishop Nathaniel of the Detroit and Romanian Orthodox Episcopate. It was such an honor. What a kind and holy man. We had attended a lovely reception in his honor. Ken was with me, and it was a rare time for us to be alone. As we were leaving, I went into the mirror and looked at my reflection. The blond hair seemed so odd and out of place. It almost felt obscene, and I wondered what happened to me. This woman I saw was not authentically me.

I'm no longer the woman clutching summer by any means necessary. I've changed. I 've grown. I'm brand new. I wanted to look beautiful and natural for a very special event that will take place on Saturday. So, when I returned home I took a pair of scissors and said goodbye to blondilocks. I snipped them one by one, lifting handfuls of fuzzy blond dreadlocks off of the sink. It felt good. It felt like it did last year, when Eric said, "Do you want to keep your hair," and I said, "I won't be taking it with me." Not on the journey I've begun, even if I just started today.

I feel light, and natural, and free. The dreadlocks that took me all year to grow are gone, as are the crinkly curls that had not quite become locks yet. All that hair, that brash, blond hair that kept me from disappearing into winter before my time is gone. I see my face, clearly. I see the soft cap of black with a touch of gray waves covering my head. I see me more clearly, and I see God more clearly. Who can ask for more than that?

Sometimes, a girl just have to simplify, cut out what she's outgrown or outrun, and open her heart to God.

I'm just a simple ragamuffin who loves the Lord. The hair was just another way to be afraid. Shorning my hair almost always gives me a boost. Begin again, walk easy, be natural, love without reservations. Be authentic.

Okay. I'm listening God. Speak to me.

So, here I am, shorn and worn, but lighter. More peaceful. You can see me, and not my hair screaming look at me! All of these things I'm experiencing are the fruit of one simple sacrament: the letting go of hair.

Goodnight, beloved.


upwords said...

Ah, the cap of beauty again. I was just thinking about those blondilocks today, thinking that it'd been a year for us this month.. I can't wait to see the new, beautiful, winter you. :)

PenguinBoy said...


Anonymous said...

Somehow I got stuck on this: "Sometimes, a girl just have to simplfy, cut out what she's outgrown or outrun, and open her heart to God."