An attempt to make sense of things in a random universe, one Friday at a time.

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Location: Philippines

Leaving my footsteps for you to find and follow, my love.

25 October 2013

The streak

Growing up, I sported a very short, very flat version of a page boy with full bangs. It was called the apple cut, which was popular with both boys and girls in the seventies and eighties. It was not my choice of haircut, as I was barely in my teens, and so my mother decided on every aspect of my life then, including my hair. But being too young, I did not quite care how I looked. I was happy with whatever I was allowed.

Since I turned 13, however, I was given free rein over my hair and other things, and true to adolescent impetuosity, I have gone from short to long to short again many times over, from straight to curly to frizzy and back to straight, from to brown to black to brown again. I even sported a crew cut at one point during high school, a no-no in our Catholic all-girls’ school. And then in further defiance, I had my head shaved to almost-bald in my senior year. Coupled with torn jeans, and sometimes, super-short skirts and super-short shorts -- all no-nos in school as well -- I became iconic in my class this way: the girl with that hair and those outfits.

It is only expected of any self-respecting teenager that she would thumb at authority in some of the most superficial ways possible, and choice of hairstyle and clothes was one of the channels through which the aforementioned teenager can pronounce a revolution. In my mind, at sixteen, the world turned on whether or not my hair was spiky and what color my socks were, and how torn my jeans were, and other profound details of such a frivolous philosophy. I had a willing audience for that, though. Quite a lot of people constantly reacted to what I wore, what I said, what I did -- teachers, classmates, the nuns. Classmates were mostly encouraging; perhaps they were living their own revolutions vicariously through me. Teachers turned their noses up at me. Nuns made the sign of the cross and mumbled a short prayer for the salvation of my soul each time they would pass me at the hallways and corridors of that large and stuffy high school that was my home for four years.

Now, nearing forty, and hardly a revolutionary -- and still not knowing whether my soul would be saved despite all the prayers that the nuns may have uttered on my behalf -- I have let my hair grow out. It’s straight, now brushes my shoulders, and has about 30% of white in it, spread all over, giving the illusion, when seen from a distance, that I had hair that was a strange, indescribable shade of brown. I have a streak of white hair, too, a fat swathe of it that starts from the top of my head and falls over the right side of my part. This streak, I suspect, started sometime during college, secretly, without me noticing it -- especially because it flowed down in a part of my head that I did not see -- until someone asked me if I got that part dyed white. All other white hair began to appear around that streak, and then gradually spread out all over my head.

The streak is still there, holding its own, but I know that in time it will be overpowered by all the individual white strands as they grow in number, eventually turning my entire head of hair white. Or gray. I cannot really tell yet. It has not gotten to that point. Right now it’s still in a state of ambivalence, and my hair sports that ‘color’ that people would, in an attempt to bestow comfort, call ‘salt-and-pepper.’

People ask me what salon I go to to get my ‘white highlights,’ and if it took me a long time to get it ‘just right.’ When I tell them it’s natural, they then promptly ask me if I have any plans to get the whites colored. At least now the tables have turned, and I’m no longer the one confused about my hair. Because I have decided to just let it go, let it grow, let it turn white, or gray. My hair is the least of my concerns now. I declare revolutions elsewhere. 

Perhaps, in this day and age in which everyone dyes their hair, leaving mine natural is my own new form of revolution. As the white streak starts to wave goodbye to its formerly dominant stature in my head, my wild streak has likewise begun to dissipate into the mists of memory. It will be replaced, in time, by white hair, straight hair, long hair, hair that does not need much to be healthy, and a life that does not need much to be happy. And the revolution will have been complete.

[Image credits: 12]