The Hair

March 25, 2010

Hair: A personal journey

The Hair

“Why on Earth did you do that to your hair!?!”

“Because I think I’d probably look pretty lousy trying to sport your buzz cut,”  I replied with a big grin.

I can’t believe I’ve only been asked that once, and by Steve T, Exec Director of the Dallas Dem Party, no less.  Steve is certainly a bold guy, but I know there are a lot of more timid people who have thought this over the years yet have kept their curiosity to themselves.   (And Steve, if you read this, I truly love you for asking!)  In truth, I’ve asked myself the same question on occasion, like right before every Parent-Teacher conference I’ve ever attended, or occasionally when going to a formal or semi-formal event, but for the most part I’m glad I did it.  It’s different, it’s unique, it’s me.

I have always loved well-tended, neat dreadlocks, but until a few years ago I never dreamed of having them myself.  Not even in my wildest imagination.  It just never occurred to me that I could lock my hair.  One day it just occurred to me that there wasn’t any reason I couldn’t have dreadlocks and so began my journey.

Step One: Ask the kids
With three soon to be teen-aged sons, this was crucial.  I didn’t want to go around embarrassing my kids.  Well, not with my hair anyway.  So I got their blessing.  This came more easily than I would have thought, I might add.

Step Two: Ask the boss
I’m an engineer for a pretty conservative, okay VERY conservative, major financial firm.  I figured that this was NOT one of those situations where it’s easier to get forgiveness than permission.    I didn’t want to make a choice between losing my job or cutting my hair off so I broached the subject with my manager.  This went over a lot better than I’d imagined, too.  The boss looked at me with a grin and said, “Are you serious, Teri!?”  Yes, I told him.  “Sure, go ahead!  Can’t wait to see it!”  (Seriously, Brent, you earned some major “cool points” with me that day.  Not that you weren’t already pretty damn cool to start with.)

Step Three: Do it!
This step was the hardest of all.  It took Hunter and I, working together, a full week to complete.  No kidding.  My hair was really long at the time.  Middle of my back long.  I won’t go into the details of how tedious it was, but trust me, it was an ordeal.

Step Four: OMG, what the $!@$!! did I just do!?!
Or: Learning to live with (and love) your dreadlocks
I know this my seem strange to most of you, but there were a lot of things that I had never considered when I did my hair initially.  Things like, “I wonder if my kids’ teachers will think I’m some kind of hippie-stoner because of my hair?”  (I just about passed out the first time I had to go into their school with my dreads when I realized there was a stoner/dreadlock stereotype) or  “What will other professionals I meet think of me?”  I’m kind of crazy sometimes, but in many ways I’m pretty conservative (not politically, of course, but that’s another blog entry.)  I still cringe just a little any time I have a Parent/Teacher meeting, but I’ve had more than one teacher say, “I love your hair!”  I’ve attended functions with high ranking politicians, Executive Vice Presidents of my company, judges, you name it…and each time it gets a bit easier for me.  These days I hardly think about it.

The Journey
I knew going into it that it would take about 6-9 months for my dreads to look half way decent.  This is well documented on every website I meticulously researched, and I like neat hair, but I persevered.  This was the hardest part.  Lots of hats, kerchiefs and headscarves were purchased and worn.  I don’t wear them as much anymore…but it took me almost 2 1/2 years to be comfortable going out without my head covered!  It was actually the fact that I would get lots compliments only when I DIDN’T wear some kind of hair covering that I realized I was being silly.    These days I get compliments on them from strangers almost every time I go out, which is pretty neat.

The Good

  • I love them.
  • My husband loves them (he’s so weird!)
  • Little old ladies in line at the supermarket stop me to tell me that I have awesome hair.  Do you have any idea how cool that is?  This actually happens a lot!
  • I can wear hairstyles I would never have attempted with my straight, fine hair
  • I’m unique
  • They’re a lot of fun at parties (Yes, I’m looking at YOU, Guillermo)
  • They keep me cool in the summer when they’re still a little damp
  • Being able to answer other people’s questions about dreadlocks…I feel like I’m providing a service to hippies everywhere.
  • Being in the ‘dread-lock club’  (yeah, we have meetings and you’re NOT invited)
  • I’ve learned to be much less self-conscious and more accepting of attention
  • I can use my own hair as a ponytail holder (you laugh, but have you ever been caught without a way to put your hair up when it’s 100+ degrees out?)
  • People almost NEVER forget me

The Bad

  • They take 30-45 minutes to wash and can take 24/36 hours to dry completely
  • They require some pretty intensive maintenance once or twice a week to look good
  • Parent/Teach conferences
  • I do miss brushing my hair sometimes
  • They’re heavy when wet
  • I occasionally tire of people asking me if I wash them (yes, I do, and by the way that’s just nasty!  Ewwww!)
  • Sleeping on them can be a pain
  • They make me cold in the winter when they’re still a little damp
  • 20-somethings hitting on me (okay, maybe this isn’t exactly ‘bad’ it’s more like ‘funny’ and even ‘flattering’…it makes Hunter laugh, too.)
  • People almost NEVER forget me. (Sometimes, when you’re not feeling your best, you just want to be invisible in public..I gave that up 3 years ago.)

Well, there you go, Steve (and those others who have remained quiet)…that’s why I did “THAT” to my hair.  ; )   It has taken me 3 years to get here, but I love them and I’m happy with where this journey has brought me.