today my locs are 4 years old.
like most black women, my hair has never been "just hair".
my mother fought with it for half-the-day-long grooming sessions....
straightening comb (i never could blowdry my hair "straight")
my hair has always grown very long very quickly. up until i was about 11 years old, it reached about halfway down my back....something like midway between my shoulder and my elbow. although people tend to think of it as thick, it's not especially so. i just have a lot of it.
people have always praised my hair, even though it was never what you'd call "good"...sometimes because it was so healthy, other times it was the length or the unusual natural highlights.
i loved it too, but somewhere deep down, i always wanted it just left alone.
i hated the hours spent in a hair salon, and perms always burned the hell out of my scalp. i did, however, enjoy the specialness of the ritual. i really bonded with my stylist (who also did my mother's hair), and eventually she found a relaxer (funny how i never found them relaxing...) that didn't burn...
and things were ok.
sometime between high school and college, i wondered what MY hair looked like.
i started noticing more and more women with locs and other natural styles. i wondered what my hair would do if given the chance. i got tired of the wash/blowdry/flatiron routine and the tons of stuff it took just to do my hair every other week.
of course, my mother swore that my natural hair was a "mess" and that it wasn't worth trying. and what would i do with it anyway?
but i let it roll around in the back of my mind...
by the time i graduated college in 2000, i was equipped with a ton of knowledge about my heritage and my culture. i'd met vegetarians...and people who were simply vehemenly anti-pork. hindus with taboos against beef. people who knew a little something about herbal cures and magic.
it was a time where i came into an understanding of things that, until that point, i only thought of as my speculations and dreams.
meanwhile, i'd become close friends with a man with hair halfway down his back who gave me a good amount of personal insight into the locing process--both literal and figurative.
once, he asked me once to twist his dreads for him when he couldn't get home for his sister to do it. before that, although i'd always been drawn to them, i'd never come within 10 feet of a head full of locs, let alone seen a tub of beeswax with the honeycomb still in it.
once i got back to baltimore i decided once and for all: no more perms. and i never looked back.
after doing some research--and despite my mother's very loud objections--i felt ready to consider growing my own "antennae". i decided i'd start my locs at 30...an age i'd picked for a few other commitments.
but i hadn't counted on how fast my hair would grow.
so, 4 years ago today, after about a year of natural growth and 2 sets of individual braids, i walked into dreadz n headz and said, "i'd like to start my locs today, please."
i remember the stylist who started them, and how she had the most beautiful hair i'd ever seen. the smell of beeswax, natural hair oils, and the adrinka symbols all over the walls.
i knew then as i know now: this is it. these locs will never leave me.
i am not a rasta, but i have always understood--at times only instinctively--the connections between my temple and my Self.
i came to a point in my womanhood where i needed the outer to reflect the inner, and i knew that my experiences and attraction to the "style" were not just a passing phase.
i have never regretted my choice.
they are far more than just "hair". they are my statement to myself and the world of my dedication to a natural way of living, my heritage, and truly being ok with who i am.
i encourage ALL my sisters to try going natural at least once. even if it's just for a few months.
get to know your true Self as evidenced through your (literal) roots. don't feed in to all the bullshit as far as who and what ppl will think you are just because you sport a 'fro for a minute--do it because you want to reconnect with something beyond you. it is a process that leads you into full womanhood.
not all of us will go thru it thru our hair, but, regardless of your method, be sure to remain conscious of it. cry with it, sit with it, laugh thru it.
my path isn't necessarily your path, but the destination is the same.