Remember I told you about the decision to go gray? It was about something way more important than hair color.
I started this journey back in March. Here we are almost five months later, and I’m almost at my goal. The only color is toward the front, where my bangs are longer than the rest of my hair.
Maybe for some people, it’s a simple decision to stop coloring their hair and be whoever they naturally are. Oops. Did I just say that?
Does color change who we are?
Why was I sitting in the salon for two hours every five weeks spending $130 – what was the importance of the color treatment? It should have been as easy as a finger-snap to decide to stop. But it wasn’t. Somehow, the decision to go gray carried freight. It was about the deepest questions of self-acceptance.
I had to examine why it mattered so much–what did those few strands of blond mean?
What did they do for me? I can only answer for myself: they held back time. To go completely natural was a way of saying to the world that I am old. I am sixty one. Quibble if you want, but old it is, or oldish, but definitely no longer young.
If you are going to rush to reassure me that I’m not old, please don’t.
That’s like saying old is bad, but wouldn’t it be fantastic if “old” was just old, and not a negative? Could we even imagine oldishness as something fine? We could if, instead of worrying about what we lose, we got excited about what we gain, like the dazzling power of brain bilateralization, for example. Or the freedom from having to curtsy and ameliorate, placate and nurture.
Now is the time to nurture ourselves.
This is my declaration of independence.
Yes, I want to look good, and I want to be slender, strong, and healthy. But I refuse to compete with someone my daughter’s age, or younger, for society’s approval. Because there is richness in the second half, and I intend to cultivate it. Occupy that territory. Own it.
A very influential, smart, well-educated person in my life said, “Well, it’s only hair.”
I jumped for his throat. “It’s way more than that!” I said. “It’s about society telling me I’m not worth anything, now that I’m old, and me telling society to go f*** itself.”
“Whoa,” he said, rearing back. “I understand. Good for you.”
I’m in full-on rebellion. Again. Just like in the 1960s.
You know what was really cool about getting my hair cut that day? The salon was playing songs popular from my first major life-change: puberty and high school, which for me, hit at the same time. As Cassie, my stylist/spirit-guide, prepared the way for this new stage, I traveled through my memories of cutting school, dropping acid, falling in love, winning a speech contest, getting my license, buying my first car (a very used 1961 VW Bug), and getting in all kinds of trouble with my Norte Vista friends Fran Smith, Lisa Forte, and Kathy Richartz. Kathy and I are still friends, forty years later. Actually, we’ve decided we’re now sisters.
God, we humans have a long lifespan, don’t we? When will we stop apologizing for that?