Thursday, September 6, 2012

Just the Way I Am

As salaam alaikum,

Today was a productive evening like few others that I've had since the start of residency. I cleaned my kitchen, I cleaned my bathroom, I did four loads of laundry. Pretty good for getting off of work at 6pm. My last task was my hair, of course.

Of course! I'd been meaning to do something about it since yesterday night. I henna gloss my hair these days, so I did an abbreviated version of that on Saturday. I usually like to do a twist out or something of the sort after I henna my hair, but I didn't have time. I had a barbecue to go to over the weekend. So I ended up sporting my simple puff, the one I wear high on my head that usually shrinks down to the caliber of my natural curls in the course of several humid days. I run my fingers through my hair in the morning with water, seal it with coconut oil, tie it up high in a headband and I'm on my way.

Everyone at work seems to really like when I wear my hair that way, but I get tired of it. I like to change it up sometimes. I haven't had time to do minitwists, so I'll try, now that it is less humid outside, to do a twist out again, eventually.

For now, at least, I needed to moisturize my hair, braid it up to stretch it out and rectify the puff for another day.

I texted S, asking him what he was up to. When he asked me, I told him about the great cleaning feat of September 2012. He was also doing laundry. Then I told him,

"Finally doing something with my's a good night!"

He was dismayed. "I thought your hair was ok. You make it sound like an emergency."

To which I laughed...and then, it gave me pause.

I do love my hair...but am I being a little bit extra?

He, like everyone else, loves my hair when I wear it in a puff. Everyone loves that more than I do. To me, I feel like I haven't done anything to my hair. I feel like it's the lazy hairstyle.

He, like most men, doesn't know anything about women's hair. He watched Chris Rock's Good Hair and still didn't understand the concept.

"I thought that good hair meant someone who has beautiful hair. You have good hair," he told me as we sat outside of Starbucks this weekend.

I chuckled. "No. I mean, that's what it should mean, but then, who doesn't have good hair? Good hair, to black people, means hair that is as loosely curled as possible and easy to straighten."

I had cousins who thought I had good hair. They just assumed, since I had fairer skin, that I also had straighter hair. "But those traits are independently assorting," I told S.

I'm not one to seek male validation, and when I find myself doing so, I try to avoid it at all costs. But I couldn't help but smile when he called my hair beautiful as it was, matted in the center where my breakage is the worst, dry, tightly curled at the edges, pulled back into a flat puff atop my head.

This is my hair at its worse. And he liked it? No, not just liked it...he thinks it's beautiful?

"You make it sound like an emergency." I laughed, but maybe I did. All I could imagine this afternoon as I glimpsed myself in the mirror were the black women in clinic pulling me aside one day and seeing if I needed help with my hair. I wanted to avoid that at all costs. I wanted to show them how a naturalista does things, and so far, I was not representing well. I was also wasting my week post deep condition. I needed to do a better job keeping my hair moisturized and groomed.

I feel more prepared for my day the days that I get to my hair. This is one of them.

So no, no emergency...and if it weren't for the fact that my hair needed just some moisturizing TLC, maybe I didn't need to do my hair at all. Maybe it wasn't a finally. Maybe my hair would have just been happy with the mist of the morning shower, coconut oil and a gentle pulling back with my headband.

This isn't the first time S has found me beautiful just the way I am in times when I'm living up to my own, personal, rigid standard that no one actually holds me to, that I sooner imagine. This also isn't the first time that S shows me a side to my words that I've never seen before, because no one points it out to me.

Maybe there's still a level where I don't think my hair is fine, just the way it is. Maybe there's still a level where I think I'm not fine, just the way I am.

He doesn't make me realize this, He's giving me the opportunity to check myself.

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