I can still feel the rifle-like recoil of my head as my mother attempted to get a brush through masses of curls and tangles. By the time I had two pigtails, my head was sore and so was I. Hair care bore a distinct resemblance to the camp meetings we attended during family week. There was weeping, wailing, and my hair was deep and wide.
By the time I was in middle school, everyone involved was OVER my hair. One day, my mother plaited it down my back, cut the braid OFF at the nape of my neck, and unleashed the Kraken. Armed with the only tool of hair maintenance I had ever known – a BRUSH – I effectively fanned the afro flames into a full on burning bush.
It took 24 hours to determine that I was going to have to grow it long again. This process would take roughly 7 years.
During high school, I deferred to my mother’s expertise on hair straightening. This meant utilizing tools and products from circa 1950. DIPPITY DO. ROLLERS WITH PINS. You may ask, why would a person with impossibly curly hair – ROLL her hair? I will tell you. In theory, turning tiny curls into big curls was straightening the hair. There is the tiniest truth in this theory. Straighter and straightened are markedly different.
The size of the rollers. The sleeping on those bad boys. All to produce a look that was pretty close to Rosanne Rosannadanna.
My adult life has been a series of random hits and misses. Pixie cuts that inspired my husband to beg me to grow my hair. Growing my hair for said husband – only to reach the end of what was reasonable – cut my hair – and have my CARDIOLOGIST comment, “Thank goodness! You look human again!” This is not an alternative fact.
With this hair history, you would think that the idea of losing it all during chemo would not phase me. HOWEVER, if I am completely honest, being bald is only second to having cancer on the “OH NO!” scale. Now, I have NEVER seen a bald woman and thought anything but BRAVE, BRAVE, BRAVE. But, when I think about ME being that bald woman, I think BALD, BALD, BALD.
Ultimately, in the beauty school of life, I had to come to learn to love my curls – to be good with me. My curls reflect the wild, messy life that I LOVE. I also love peace, quiet strength, simplicity. Bald can be like that. Bald is pretty straightforward. I like that.