I'm thinking about how at the back of each John Updike book I've ever read, there has been a note about the typeface. It is in the spirit of those notes that I offer this one, about my hair.
The last time I had my stylist color my hair was the first week of September in 2011. When she was finished and I had paid, I mentioned to her that I would be taking a trip the last week of October and that I might need a touch-up before then. She said, "No problem. I keep Saturdays unscheduled in order to handle such things, so just shoot me a text and I'll work you in."
I had been resenting this issue of "maintenance" for years. Each time I crossed paths with a woman whose hair color was obviously natural -- obvious because there was some oh-my-god-GRAY showing -- I felt admiration and envy. Seeing women with gray hair doesn't happen very frequently these days, but when it does I often think their hair looks beautiful -- like it belongs to them.
I never sent the text to my stylist.
I went to my husband's event in Oregon and did the meet an' greet with a lovely salt and pepper stripe at the part. If anybody noticed, nobody said a word.
It was months after that trip before I let anyone near my hair. When I did, finally, the salt and pepper stripe was about three inches long. I started going to cheap, walk-in joints every four to six weeks and I just had whoever was holding the scissors that day start cutting the colored stuff away. When I was sure the last half-inch of the color was ready to come off and I could be left with a decent looking short haircut, I returned to my regular stylist.
It's been a few months since that cut.
I don't do much with my hair. I'm loving the freedom from maintenance.
I'm sensitive to most salon products so I've started using Aubrey Organics, which I buy at the food co-op. They don't cost $40 for an eight ounce bottle, they don't make promises they can't keep, and they don't make my scalp itch.
Until election day of 2012, nobody -- nobody -- had ever stopped me in public to remark on my hair. After I voted last November, though, a woman outside of my polling place stopped me and very nearly gushed, "Oh my God, I love your hair!" I'd already signed her anti-fracking petition and she wasn't selling anything, so, you know, her gushing confused me a little. I smiled awkwardly and thanked her.
"It's the color!" she said. "I just love the color!"
I said, "Thanks," again, and added, "it just, you know, it just grows this way."
Since then I've lost count of how many women and men have complimented me on my hair -- fewer than a dozen, greater than half a dozen. It still surprises me when it happens. The last time it happened was today, after my birthday massage. Loretta said, "You know, I really love your hair. It's the color. It's really beautiful." I'd already paid and tipped her. We'd been chatting about her man situation and how coyotes had smartly breeched her brother's chicken coop fortress, and suddenly, "You know, I really love your hair."
I said, "Thanks, Loretta. I love it, too, because it's maintenance-free and it, well, you know, it just suits me."
Photo on 2-5-13 at 2.48 PM #2, originally uploaded by coff33hous3r.