I have a plan.
It started a few years ago. We were out in the courtyard of our neighborhood talking to some friends and when we came back inside Benson said, “While we were out there, I was admiring your gray hair.”
“It’s that obvious?” I asked, reaching my hand up to the side of my head.
“Yeah, but I was admiring it!” he said glowingly. “The sun was hitting it and it looked good!”
That week I picked up a cheap box of color at Kroger. “Honey!” I called from the bathroom. “Can you help me dye my hair?”
Benson jogged up the stairs and joined me in the bathroom. While I read the box he studied the instructions. “It says it may stain our clothes,” he said.
“Yeah,” I agreed. “Just don’t wear any.”
And because Benson loves me as Jesus loves the church, he stripped down to his underwear, donned the jumbo plastic gloves that came with the color, and applied chemicals to my hair while I sat on a stool at the sink ordering, “Get the sides! Go fast! It’s got to be even! Did you set the timer?”
And so began our every-eight-week routine. The color usually looked pretty terrible. Afterward, Benson and I would examine the results and discuss what to do differently next time, how we left the color on too long or too little and how he kept missing the sides. I kept a digital note in my phone and we’d reference it the next time. “Do the sides more,” I’d instruct.
When I went to get haircuts, my haircut lady warned me not to tell anyone she did my hair, because then they’d think she was the one responsible for the hideous color. Finally, after seeing a picture of myself with the too-dark shade, I agreed to let my fancy haircut lady start coloring my hair. And then I gave her a ton of money.
It was gorgeous. This rich chestnut hue with a few caramel highlights. I felt like a movie star. And then I kept coming back for more. And kept giving her all of my money. I wondered how long it would last. I knew that once I hit a certain point in life, I’d want to stop coloring my hair because I think ladies with silver hair are classy and chic. I also knew that I didn’t want to have to make the transition once I was totally gray, because it’d send me into shock. It seemed best to begin the transition a bit early.
So one night about a year into my movie star hair routine, I made a decision:
There was no huge defining event. Just a simple decision. I’m going gray. It’s not because I haven’t taken care of myself. It’s not wrong. I’m okay with it. My husband admires it. Besides, isn’t there a verse about gray hair being a crown of splendor? (Update: there is! Lookin’ at you, Proverbs!)
Since then, I’ve searched on Pinterest for other ladies on my same journey – going gray in their 30s and lettin’ it happen. What I found were all these photos of hot 20-something models who’d dyed their hair silver. In the pictures they’re all wearing tiny white tank tops and their silvery hair drapes down across their big boobs and tiny waists. I also found an online group of hippy ladies in their 50s transitioning from colored hair to gray and offering videos on how to start a community garden.
But nobody like me. And since my Internet search history doesn’t know what to make of me anymore, I’m now getting ads for how to navigate menopause with grace and dignity.
I’ve told a few friends about my decision. The response has mostly been something like this:
“My aunt/mom/sister’s friend/co-worker did that and she looked like crap.” Then they laugh at the memory of said aunt/mom/whoever trying to age naturally.
ANYWAY, a few years or two months or a decade from now I might change my mind and start bleaching my locks and then throw in some Botox and lip injections while I’m at it, but for now, I’m really happy about my decision. I know this sounds so sappy, but I feel freer.
Here’s a recent picture, where you can sorta see that my bun is brownish and the rest is, well, different. Oh, and the picture is from Benson’s company party! Yes, I got to go! (See last post for background.) And other than a time or two where I found myself unable to finish a sentence because I was a little too doped up (thanks muscle relaxers!) and having to say, “I know what I’m trying to fay, but I . . .” and then trailing off and staring into the distance, it was a lovely night.
So if you see me in public and I’m wearing a headscarf, it’s because at the moment, and probably for the next couple of years, I’m going to have a two-toned head of hair. Plus, head hankies are adorable and I feel fancy in them.
Do you have an aunt/sister/co-worker who went gray naturally? WELL I DON’T WANT TO HEAR IT. Unless you have something nice to say. Then you can comment.
Now, I’m off to tend my community garden.