I like it, sort of, the way people stare when my hair is pulled off my face. It’s not because of the attention, more like a surprise. I’m a surprise to them, maybe a surprise to myself. How you can never really know someone. You meet a different version of a person depending on the day, the hour, the weather, life’s circumstances. In many ways, I like the way hair–natural hair, specifically–allows for that….
Despite my reluctance, people often size me up based on the coils springing from my head. They miss how my eyes are “off,” the slight color that bleeds out of my iris. They may never notice that one crooked tooth I no longer bother to hide; or the scars turned dark and tiny circles from my toddler-aged bout with chicken pox, how they’re scattered into a connect-the-dots pattern on my left cheek.
And then I get my hair braided.
It’s like a filter is lifted, and they double-back. “Hey!” they say. Like, “Hey? Oh, Hey!” Their mind didn’t register me at first; and for a second I get to be a whole a new woman.
And in the same double-take kind of way, I have the same reaction. Having my hair back is like walking around New York City butt-naked. It feels vulnerable and raw. A walking, joyful, optimistic, insecure, confident and raw wound seeping through the June concrete.
(braids styled by my friend, Rubi Jones. )