Day two :: Hair
red hair. a secret wish, the longing of my childhood heart. tendrils and corkscrews, curls and bounce. grandma M’s hair (the grandma, the ‘tiny town’ outcast in the middle of nowhere. the grandma with life experiences of world travel, society, a house closed-up tightly, filled with dark furniture, oriental rugs, an authentic indian headdress hanging on the wall. the grandma who fed me maraschino cherries from a jar) that grandma had hair “lucille ball red”. it passed two generations and grows wispy, soft strawberry on my granddaughter violet.
blue hair. grandma A’s hair (the grandma, always old, wore the same housedress with a fresh apron every day, except when she wore the silver blue lace dress for her 50th wedding anniversary. the grandma with a yard of garden, the smell of sweet peas, the rising bread on the counter and the gift of scratchy knit slippers each christmas) that grandma was proper, even with a weekly blue rinse. she sang in the church choir, played the organ, was a good wife, idolized by her daughter, my mother. i don’t remember her voice.
dark brown hair. my mother’s hair. or at least it started out brown. i’m not sure i remember ever touching it, feeling it. i see the chocolate colored goo under a plastic bag, dripping down her neck. i smell the ammonia of a home permanent. there was “frosting” and streaking and hot rollers and hair bonnet dryers. as she aged, the streaking became blonder and her hair became unrecognizable as her own.
blond hair. my daughter’s. when she was a little girl i barely recognized her as my own with her beautiful, thick hair. in my wildest imagination there was never even an inkling of an idea of a blond haired daughter. she has embodied that wildness, fullness of life and creativity. and the gift comes with the understanding that she is not an expression of me.
sitting very, very still on the red vinyl step stool, my mother would braid my waist length mouse colored hair. bangs were cut straight across the middle of my forehead with her sewing scissors to hide the birthmark that was really never hidden. one summer, the tiny town outcast grandma took me to my first beauty parlor every other day because she didn’t know what to do with a little girls hair.
over the years my dark brown hair has been ironed and permed, set on orange juice cans and crimped. it has been curled and braided and sun dried with spritzes of lemon, streaking natural highlights. it has been “pixied” and “vidaled”, “shagged” both long and short. and through all of that, my hair has aged well.
this i know.
i own and wear my own crown, a silver gray crown, sometimes streaked with purple.