Saturday, February 28, 2015

Shearing my Locs

In November, I cut my locs. It was traumatic. I’d been talking about cutting them for two years but couldn’t face the idea of having to comb and style my hair again. I’d had 27 years without daily hair maintenance, of owning neither comb nor brush. Every time I dialed my hairdresser’s number to make an appointment, I hung-up before he answered. Couldn’t face adding daily hair-combing to my other chores. But in November I was determined. Years of living in the intense Mexican sun, in arid San Miguel where there are no Black hair care products, where no one knows a thing about nappy hair, mine felt like straw. I didn’t want to turn 65 with dry, damaged hair on my head.

What would I do with it? I knew I didn’t want it straight. Remembered the dreaded straightening comb that inevitably left a small burn on your earlobe or the nape of your neck when the sizzling-hot iron touched skin, the chemical relaxers which when imprecisely timed burned my scalp, leaving sores. But if it wasn’t relaxed, how would I control my hair? I almost backed out again, almost cancelled my appointment.

I sat rigid in the chair while he snipped, didn’t say no when he picked up the flat iron after he blow-dried my hair. I had no styling suggestions. Let’s see what he comes up with, I thought. It wasn’t bad. Spiky on top, kinda punk but it didn’t look like me. I didn’t have to live with not looking like myself for long, the next day hot yoga ruined it.
Whatever I knew about my hair pre-locs no longer applied. My reddish brown was completely grey, and the grey hair was a different texture, wiry.  I woke up every morning for a month looking like Don King. Told my girl friends if any pictures of me in this transitional state showed up on Facebook they’d be murdered. I felt completely disconnected from my power. Couldn’t figure out if I was pissed or amused when people I’d known for years didn’t recognize me when they passed me on the street.

I bought mud, mousse, gel, things I’d never used on my hair before, trying to fashion a do that didn’t make me go, “This was a big mistake,” every time I passed a mirror. Then an African-American friend, who wears her hair natural, arrived in January and gave me some of the product she uses on her hair.  A little Aveda Be Curly transformed my mane, created a texture I didn’t hate. I still don’t love but it’s getting better.

For all my friends who didn’t understand why I hemmed and hawed for two years—this is why. 27-years of practically no-care hair that I loved is a hard act to follow.