Friday, February 12, 2010

I Think I'm Ready (14/90)

All week I've fully intended on wearing my hair fluffy, funky and free. And yet, have not. 

I even laid out the clothes I’ve been waiting to wear with the big hair and big earrings. The ones that say that I am confident and sassy, which I am.  Sometimes.

 On Sunday I spent over an hour prepping the hair; combing out the curls, parting, sectioning and finally blow-drying it straight, or as straight as is possible now. And when I say finally, I just mean that step two is now complete. In preparation for the morning, I re-sectioned the hair and braided it so that in the morning I could take down the braids and welcome waves.

If this sounds like a backward and complicated process, it is. Even more so because this is all new to me.

***
“I want to be free too,” I told my friend only half-jokingly as we sat on her couch in New York City.

She had just finished getting ready for the day, her head full of golden brown curls still dripping from the ends.

“Then do it,” she said as if it were just that easy.

I was eight months into growing out my relaxer, intrigued by the waves and curls growing from my head but weighed down by the chemically straightened ends. Years and years of weight, that I'd toyed with releasing for years.



"You should do it while you're here in the city," she told me. "I can do it for you."

"I think I'm ready," I said. "Let me think about it for a while."

And I did, I thought about it for a while; the reaction I would receive from my peers on campus when I returned from Spring Break, what my Dad would say, if the boys would stop looking, if certain black girls would laugh and turn their noses up, if people would say things that they didn't intend to be offensive and hurtful.

***
 But after all that,  I did it.  On a whim after a week in The  City.  It was 1 a.m., just after a party with a bunch of funky, artsy Juilliard students. I was inspired. I was ready.  

I washed my hair to make the line of demarcation clear, that fine line between the truth and the lye, revealing the curls that had been waiting for 16 long years to be free. 

I sat on the hard-wood floor on top of a sheet, for easy clean-up of the hair I would be shedding. I took a deep- breath as my friend took the scissors in her hand. 

I bit down on my lip as I heard the metal blades of the scissors meet, clamping down on my security. 

From that first chop, I sat silently and still trying not to watch as the hair fell quickly from my head. When she finished I sat still on the floor, and finally took a look around at the hair surrounding me. 

The one thing I've always taken pride in, the reason I was called beautiful, my glory on the floor at my feet. 

"Should I be freaking out right now," I asked jokingly trying to snap out of my shock. 

"No, just go look in the mirror," she said. 

I walked slowly through that narrow hallway, flipped the light switch on in the bathroom and stood, looking at my self in the mirror. Lye free. 

I was speechless, my jaw still hanging as I walked back through the hallway to my friend.


"It's going to take some getting used to," she said.

And she was right. I went to bed that night still full of questions. And full of freedom.  

*** 
I had a flight to catch in the morning, I got ready quickly my curls springing into place with ease. There was no fight that morning, they were free finally. I was free. 

And yet, I pulled a hat over my head when I went out, not quite ready to stand bare before the world. 

It took a while to get used, just as she said it would. Nearly a year after The Big Chop I still catch glimpses of this hair in the mirror and linger for a bit, speechless. 

And sometimes I plan to let it be fluffy and funky and free, only to pull it back just before it's time to leave the house. Not yet ready to stand bare before the world. 

But, there is a freedom I'm dying to  explore, truth to be discovered.

And I think I'm ready. Just let me think about it for a while. 
  

6 comments:

Brad King said...

that fine line between the truth and the lye - NICE

Tiffany Holbert said...

Thank you, that's something I want to do a bit more with at some point.

Brad King said...

play with words? or lye -- I thought no more lye :)

Tiffany Holbert said...

bahaha, no more lye for sure. do a bit more with the hair story, cause you know, it's loaded! :)

Brad King said...

Ah, yes. That would be good. Find your passion :) I'll bet you could build a big HAIR community in the SM class for your project.

Tiffany Holbert said...

I've been considering that.

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