I have always been a bit anxious about my hair.
When I was in my late twenties and very poorly, with no explanation as to why, one of the most distressing symptoms I experienced was my hair falling out. Many times, I tried to grow my hair long, only to have to chop it off – brutally short – and hide what was left of it away under a selection of (always) black hats.
I’m more relaxed these days. Whilst my hair doesn’t have the thickness of my childhood years, it is relatively strong and healthy. I have even been persuaded to dye it a little, always being careful for fear of the dreaded fallout.
Two years ago, I cut my hair as short as I dared, into a chin-length bob that could just about be tied back for work. Underneath that bob was a V-shaped undercut, an affectation I have maintained ever since, despite my advancing years, whilst the rest of my hair has been growing back down towards the almost-waist length I’d had previously.
Of course, with Covid came scarcity of haircuts plus the inability to afford more than box dye to change the colour. Lockdown found me testing the philosophy that washing my hair less often would improve its fullness and condition (it did) and also switching to solid shampoo and conditioner. I haven’t worried about my hair for a while but, checking the extent of my undyed roots in the mirror a few days ago, I did notice that I have developed a few more grey hairs.
I was delighted.
This might seem strange, coming from someone who has just admitted to being quite precious about her hair, but I am genuinely thrilled. I can’t wait to have the silver hair that I am clearly one day going to have – and to be able to dye it all the wacky colours that are currently impossible for me to contemplate without also facing the need to strip my hair of its natural, copper-threaded, dark brown. Plus, I have long been irritated by the question: what do you do to look so young (nothing that I am aware of) and by being left embarrassed and awkward when others have been openly horrified (for reasons I cannot fathom) to discover that I am significantly older than I look. I want my silver hair. I am going to own it!
More than that, though…
To me, these glimmers of transformation in my hair are a gift and a privilege. It is always true to say that age is a blessing that is denied to many but at no other time in my life has this been more true. It will be a while yet before I can swish my silver locks but that’s exactly what I plan to do, someday. I plan to live long enough for my hair to completely metamorphose and I plan to enjoy every day between now and then.
For so much of my life, I have found myself defined by my relationship to others: daughter, sister, cousin, wife, mother, aunt. And I am not complaining; indeed, I hope to add ‘grandmother’ to that list… as soon as my beloved offspring co-operate! But as I enter my middle years (planning to reach 102 seems reasonable to me) I am increasingly able to finally be just myself. I am excited to gradually meet this new version of me; this variation on my theme that brings together all that I have lived, learned, loved and lost.
She’s going to have wicked hair…