Thursday, March 22, 2012


I have a grey streak running through my hair. Really, it's more silver, but still, grey. It's on the right side of my head, midway up and maybe an inch behind my ear. Sometimes when I'm bored or nervous, I'll grab a cluster of hairs in that area and check just to make sure it's still there.

It's still there.

I've always had it. My mother used to have the hairdresser cut out the grey strands from the rest of my mess of hair when I was a kid. I've got so much hair, it's so thick, that no one notices if I'm twenty or so hairs short of my normal full head. I don't think she meant anything by it, it's just strange to have a child with grey hairs, why not simply rid me of any evidence of abnormality? At least of one so easy to remove.

In college, I went through a phase where I dyed my hair pretty regularly. Usually just a few shades darker. Occasionally I'd fall prey to the pictures I'd seen in magazines and go for some highlights. I forgot all about the grey. It was always covered up.

I literally just forgot about that part of myself. Maybe the hair dye killed my brain cells.

Anyway, partially due to financial constraints and partially due to me becoming the kind of person I actually want to be, I stopped dying my hair a few years ago. It kind of feels good to know that the chemicals are out of it. I kind of feel smug to be comfortable in my own skin. At least in that way, for every one part of me I've grown comfortable with, it seems five more insecurities pop up daily. Don't even talk to me about my pores, I'm set on spending an exorbitant amount of money trying to shrink them back to the size they appeared when I was sixteen and worried about the size of my boobs.

It's always something, I guess.

It was December when I noticed that my grey streak is back. I'm twenty five now, so at first it wasn't exactly a happy reunion with an old friend. I was curling my hair for a rehearsal dinner the night before the marriage of two of my college friends. Matt was in the shower in the next room.

I veritably panicked at the sight, because my first thought was that it made me a mortal. Someone who can't stop the sands of time. I mean, duh. I exclaimed for him to come and look and of course, he didn't see what all the fuss was about. When it comes to appearances, Matt is one of the least fussy people I know. Usually I appreciate that. In that moment, I did not.

My parents are both in their forties. I've never spotted a grey hair on either of their heads, and lately I've been looking more closely. None in my father's beard from what I can tell either. Isn't that where men show their age first?

 I'm standing frozen, transfixed, with a hot curling iron in my hand, wearing a salmon colored sleeveless dress in the middle of winter in a dark hotel room next to a highway in Columbus, Ohio, ticking through the Rolodex of grey hairs I have archived in my memory, significant ones. My Nan's blond color shampoo in the shower at the lake house when I was young. Her first attempts at covering what she now wears proudly. My aunt confessing that she's been dying her hair black for 15 years. A few streaks of silver in a couple of my friends, always yanked. And then there it was. The streak, buried far in the back, but still there. A forgotten memory of my childhood. Squelched as quickly as it could stubbornly reappear every time I sat down, cape resting around my narrow shoulders in the spinning salon chair.

Since then my grey streak has been more novelty and less foreboding omen for me. I'd like to say I've always been an old soul or something equally cliche, but the fact is that I haven't. I haven't always been an old soul. Sure, I like a lot of the same activities as my grandmother, and I'll gladly partake in them with her or alone, but really, I'm still figuring out new things about myself just about daily. I think that makes me still pretty young in the grand scheme.

My grey streak? It's not exactly a badge of honor, because I can't for the life of me figure what it's done to deserve that. I guess the best I can decide is that it's been a constant. It's stood there, stubborn, despite all the ways I've tried to yank it, cover it, or forget about it. No matter what I do, it takes root and hangs on for dear life. It's watched me change and grow and love and hate just about everything about myself. And it never mattered because it wasn't going to change, not really, not even when it was unrecognizable.  And now, I like it, just the way it is. Finally. 

I guess it's kind of like me. 

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