Monday, May 9, 2011

Silenced Change

My hair has always been a barometer of sorts.  Whenever change is coming, I mean significant, life altering, big changes, it usually manifests in my hair first.

I didn't realize this until I began a journey about two weeks ago of taking down my dread locs.

My baby daughter, curly hair precocious one, asked to have dread locs.  Her hair is super, super curly, like both my parents, and would be harder to loc than a tighter curl like her big sister.  I told her she had hair like mine, after her many requests and longing looks at her sister and I.  Her big eyes and requests promoted me to take down a loc to let her feel my hair.  She said "oh mommy, you are right, your hair is like mine,"

I promised that beautiful little girl that I would start my locs over with hers.  I spent four hours putting her hair in two strand twists and then began the long journey to take down 120 locs.  I didn't want to just cut my hair off, the other method I've used when it was time to make a major change.

Several years ago, close to three decades ago, I had my first foray into wearing my hair short.  I mean, really short, about 1-2 inch afro that was super curly and easy to care for.  It was back down to my shoulders a year later.  I spent the better part of college getting my hair mini-trimmed, usually with it shoulder length.

When my newly minted 17 year old was in-the-oven, I had my hair braided and wore braids for 18 months.  That prompted a change of no more braids and me being convinced to perm my hair that was in natural layers with the longest down the middle of my back.  That was a decision I regretted because my natural hair was so thick, curly, and wonderfully luscious.

The next few years were spent with it getting long, then cutting it in everything from a pixy bob (at the ear lobs) to just a trim.  Then November 2000 came along.

I was still newly remarried, settling in at my new job (post MBA), new home, and new town.  I loved just having the three boys and was getting tired of the time and effort the twice-monthly press and wraps were taking for my past-the-shoulders hair.  I went in the day after Thanksgiving (no shopping for me that day!) and told my barber to cut it off.  He tried many things to suggest (even braiding it again) and I just said no, cut it off.  He did to an inch of wonderfully, cottony soft curls.

Major life change.  I ended up getting pregnant!

I spent the next nine months doing various rotations with my consumer products company and feeling life grow inside me and more and more natural hair grow outside my head. I  refused to do a perm or press and curl so I started two-strand twisting.  I loved the natural look and I rocked it professionally with my suit and scarves, I was way ahead of the natural hair acceptance now and thinking back, I was one of only two in marketing who had natural hair (the other was a black female VP who wore a mini afro).  The only other women with natural hair (locs) were in a different professional department and had been at the company a lot longer than I had.

Enter 2003 and twists getting longer.  My life changed again, got pregnant with daughter number two and stopped working in corporate america.

Enter 2007 and the two strand twists finally decided they wanted something different.  It was about June or July and I was going to do my usually untwist, deep wash, and retwist, when I found that several of them had turned on themselves and locked.  I did my hair every 10 days so this was a surprise that I thought would never happen!  I was going to have locs.

The years in between have presented their challenges in every facet of life and opportunities for sunshine and friendship.  I've often wondered if I could rewrite, redo, reenergize the dreams that were silenced at different times. I have reached the other side of years that my mother never knew and there are still journeys and roads to travel and thoughts to break through forced silence.  It has all been experienced and felt in my hair, the gray popping our reminding me of the wisdom I possess and the battles I've overcome.

It is 2011 and while my locs have grown to mid back (still with those pesky layers with the my hair tapering) and a beautiful daughter who wants locs.  I cut them last year (two inches) and then decided it was time.

I just had my birthday (nice) and Mother's Day (redeemed) in one weekend.  I feel the change coming.

Next year, 2012, my youngest son will turn 18 and will graduate from high school, the main reason for being in Kirkwood will come to an end, a change is on the horizon.  I'm not sure where this hair journey will take me once the locs are out, I just know that something major is about to happen in my life and I will not be silenced during this change!

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