Katy found this photo in my Flickr account and asked me about it, so I thought I'd oblige.
I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, HAIR! Or maybe you're not, maybe you're wondering if I've been caught in a windstorm. Inside. Or thinking that I've been sucked into the fan. Or have invested heavily in hairspray. But actually, this photo is one of a few that I asked my Superstar Husband to help me take, in a series about Change.
Because what signifies change like hair? Nothing, really. There aren't many things about ourselves that we can change, like hair. I mean, tattoos are permanent. So, sometimes when change needs to happen and it needs a symbol to guide it, people reach for their scissors or their black dye to DO something.
I remember the time, when I was eighteen, that I tried to streak my hair. I had never used bleach before, and I piled the chunks of bleached hair on top of my head to wait for the bleach to work. What ended up happening was that I had a platinum skunk stripe all the way down the center of my head. It was wretched. So, I did what any sane person would do, and added streaks of blue and pink. You know, just to add to the troll baby effect. My hair was red at the time, so I had red, white, blue, and pink hair. Not only that, but my best friend dyed her hair black and I used a bit of her dye for more streaks.
It actually looked pretty wonderful. Because of my super curly hair (the little girls in the playground would always yell out "Spice Girl!" at this time in my life) and unconventional way of dressing in old tacky dresses, I got away with it. My friend Carolyn said to me, one day, "You've always been the epitome of freedom to me, Rae, but this really tops it!"
Now I look back at that girl and think, epitome of freedom? HAH! I was definitely bound up. I just didn't know it at the time.
But then there was the time that I moved from one community to another. I was nineteen, and it was a really, really hard move for me. San Francisco was a beautiful, yet ice cold place to me, and I left some of the best friends of my life to be somewhere that I was a stranger. I felt a huge rebellion against this life decision, and something needed to be DONE about it. So, yes, I cut all my hair off and made the first cut at the very front of my head, half an inch away from my scalp. Chinua was with me, only my "friend" at the time. You know a man is made for you when he sees you make a move like that and is only admiring, despite your lumpy head and silly new hairstyle. Although, he'd probably try to stop me if I did something like it now. Did cutting my hair settle my inner resistance to my new life? I don't know, but it was a symbol, and definitely part of loss and identity crisis for me at the time. I wrote a poem about it. I'll look around and see if I can find it, to post it.
My hair just sort of grew out, after this point. (This is a really interesting story, isn't it? I can tell you're just thrilled to be hearing the story of my hair. And I skipped Junior High! For anyone who's seen my Uncle Larry picture, you know that I skipped the best part.) The only major change was that I stopped dying it red. It was a statement in itself. I had always hated having blond hair, so to let my hair do it's natural thing was another step for me. Maybe even more freeing than dying it crazy colors, but I walked away from the semi-permanent shrine circle and saved me some money, too.
And then, of course, right around the time that Kid A was born, I started to let my hair dread up. And it was another symbol, for me, one of settling in to motherhood, to a new me that had grown out of the old me. Settling into my crazy hippie community a little more. Becoming more tied into my life, sighing into the ever increasing restraints that marriage and motherhood and community had offered me. (It is a constant rebellion, this thing inside of me, that I have to squelch all the time.)
And these photos, well, I don't know what exactly they are. An excuse to tell you my hair history. Probably just more freedom. A need for change, a need for God to blow me around a little. Reading through my old journals, I see that I have changed in ways that I didn't mean to. I have squelched that rebellion a little, yes, but I have also crushed a little faith out, a little romance, some kindness, some ridiculous positivity and hope.
I can feel change coming, it is in the air. It is all around, and this is what I want to teach my children. Change is there when you need it, change of your heart is one of the constants, always available if you ask. "Incline your ear to me; answer me speedily in the day when I call!"* We are not stuck. We may not always be able to effect our circumstances, but God is always available to breathe a difference into our hearts.
So, that's the story of that photo. What about you? Do you have any hair stories? Or maybe other stories involving the symbolism of change?