Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The space between

As I stand in front of the mirror, I pull my fingers through my hair, lifting the strands up and away, revealing truth.  I quickly drop my hand and for a brief moment I shoot a grimace at my reflection.  Then my face relaxes and I smile.
I am utterly bewildered at the plethora of gray that fills the space between my scalp and that colored hair that I masquerade as my own.
I don't know what I loathe more, the fact that I ever started faking it in the first place or the reality that if I hadn't, I would be nearly 100% gray now.

I grew up watching my mom color her hair.  She claims that she never had a gray hair until she had me.  I think that statement is deceiving because at the time that she had me, she was also the mother to four other kids, ages 10-17.  And I was an easy baby.  No, the gray hair had nothing to do with me, lady.

I can see her now, standing at the half-bath sink, hands covered in clear plastic gloves, tipping the plastic bottle of color on to her head.  The color in the bottle never matched the color of the lady's hair on the box that teetered on the sink's edge.  It tended more towards the yucky side of the color wheel...when all of the colors get spun around too fast and then spill awkwardly into each other.  Thankfully, when the timer went off and the allotted amount of minutes had passed, my mom's hair looked pretty normal.  Natural, even.

I grew up watching this and, every time, I whispered silently to myself, "I will never do that."

And so here I stand, in front of the mirror, thirty some odd years later, playing that tape over in my head.  Despite my childhood vows, I have grown into the kind of woman that colors her hair.

That skunkish ribbon of white that runs from my forehead to my crown, the silvery whisps that frame my temples and ears...I'm just not ready to own them. Yet.  Those gray hairs even feel different than the satiny locks of my youth.  They are coarse and wiry, with a mind completely of their own.  And they don't match my insides.  

Will I ever feel like they match my insides?

Lord, I hope not.

But I have a feeling that there will come a day when to continue the charade will be the joke, not the number of grays.  And I will slowly, over time, let the gray take its rightful place.

For now, I will simply stare at the space between, relax my face, and smile.

"dance mehitabel dance
til your old bones fly apart
i ain't got any regrets
for i gave my life to my art"

from "mehitabel dances with boreas"
by Don Marquis

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  1. I always remembered the smell. It was like a discarded bleach bottle that was set on fire. It was always a day of transformation when the hair was being colored, the house was expected to be a little bit cleaner and their was an extra step in the walk of the feeling in the house. Clairol butterfly.

  2. Holly - I love your writings. You make me feel as if I was right there with you. Just thought I would share with you the way I embraced my hair turning gray was by remembering the people in my life from my childhood and as I got older who I only remember with that beautiful white hair. These people were so special in my life and I loved them so much that I guess I just saw it as my connection to them. May sound silly to others but it was meaningful to me! You knew each one of them - Granny (Mee Mee), Uncle Roger and my daddy!