Sunday, February 18, 2007

How do I get there from here?

It has been such a busy two weeks for me! Like everybody else, I'm going through job changes, relationship changes, body changes, you name it! And in the midst of it all I am trying to make some decisions about what to do with my hair!

I made an appointment to get my Sisterlocks installed at the end of this month. Once I made my decision, I found it was impossible for me to go back to straight hair. This is a style I get by applying leave-in conditioner (Infusium 23) and simply twisting sections of my hair from root to tip. Its natural kink/curl keeps it from unraveling! I love my hair texture!

Oops! Some of the fuzzies are making an appearance!

As much as my little coils resemble new locks, you can see how easily they untwist into loose waves.

I liked my consultant immediately. We spoke on the phone for over an hour before I met her in person for my actual consultation and test locks. I sensed that she was a calm and wise spirit and that she took her responsibility as guide on this journey very seriously. I called her on Monday Jan. 29 and my consult was the following Friday. I was on my way to my regular stylist to get my press and curl, but I wanted her to see what it was like in it's near-natural state (after a blowout).

I tend to run late for things. Ideally I wanted her to see it in it's most natural state after a wash and towel-dry, but I didn't have time to re-wet it and blow dry it before my other appointment.

I don't know what anyone else's hair is like, so I really have no frame of reference, but my hair changes significantly depending on how I treat it. When I pamper and coddle it (i.e. very little heat, hot oil treatments, leave-in conditioners, moisturizing shampoo) it loves me. Loves me! It is soft and smooth and shiny and silky. I must brush it ever so tenderly and comb it ever so gently. If I get impatient and hurry, I'm met with knots and tangles. Actual teeny tiny knots made from one strand of hair that wrapped around itself and there is nothing for it but to cut that knot out because the curling iron or the flat iron will singe it off anyway.

When it is wet from the wash I have kink that won't quit! But if I braid it wet, I have adorable soft waves and crinkles that fade into adorable ringlets on the ends. But when I put heat to it, even from a dryer, it's like I summon the warrior roots. It decides to rise up and fight. To prove that it is strong. I have lost track of how many blow dryer comb attachments I broke. There were a few brands I tried that lost anywhere from 3 - 5 teeth at each drying session (skirmish). So my hair takes on this soldier stance, where I feel like it's going to yank the comb out of my hand and smack me with it. Then, when the drying is done, I soothe and pacify it with a light oil that I apply with loving hands and a soft brush. At that point I am ready for the salon.

I leave my house looking like Miss Diana from back in the day. Y'all remember that stacked 'fro she wore parted down the middle that was just big and fluffy and out to there? Wish I had a picture. Oh wait! I do...I was just reluctant to post it because it is extremely unflattering!

And my stylist (I love her!) is a miracle worker. She flat irons it with such skill that you would never know I was all-natural. And I have to say I feel no small amount of ambivalence about that.

I am ambivalent about having natural hair and wearing it in a style that so closely resembles relaxed hair. Sometimes I feel like my hair should always be textured and kinky, so that everyone knows at first glance that I am a natural sister. Other times I like being able to show people that our hair can be chemical-free and still look straight and bouncy and shiny and not-nappy. In fact, my hair always had more body and bounce when the life wasn't stripped from it by chemical processes. And I loved telling people about it. My hair always stayed shiny whenever I straightened it. You can even see some of the shine in the coiled pictures at the top of this post. People always asked me what products I used to get that shine. Honestly...I never had to load it down with oil or grease to get it to shine. It is just that healthy...because I haven't used a relaxer in over 6 years.

We will never see a time when everyone abandons relaxers and weaves and extensions, but a lot of people are scared to go natural because they think that their only options are locks and twists and TWAs...and they aren't ready, but they would stop using chemicals if they believed they could continue to wear straight styles and have the option of wearing it curly sometimes. I liked being an example of the versatility of chemical-free hair. And I am going to miss that.

I've always enjoyed being able to move between the worlds. I can rock the 'fro when I choose. Or the 2-strand twists. Or cornrows. Or coils. Or curls....Or totally bone-straight hair. I never thought one was superior to the other. It usually depends on what I'm doing that day or that week. Am I going to the beach? Will I be dancing late into the night at a house party? Will I be at the office for the next couple of days? Giving a presentation to a conservative client?

So...I am also ambivalent about leaving that particular brand of versatility behind. That's why I always say that I am going to try Sisterlocks. I am not sure I will want them for life. I may very well decide that in 5 years or 10 that I will cut them off and start anew.

I am currently wearing my hair straightened (in the layered flip pictured above) and it is 7 - 10 inches long, so when I decided to get sisterlocks I knew it would not be cheap. She quoted me a very fair price, but I just didn't have it, which was alright because I needed the time to come to terms with what I am giving up. One definition of sacrifice I keep in my head is this: the act of giving up something of value to acquire something of greater value.

I feel like I will be sacrificing a lot of my stlying versatility - especially at the very beginning - but I am going to do it, because ultimately I believe I will be happier overall.

I have to be honest and say that I was intimidated by the Sisterlocks Motto, "It's not a hairstlye, it's a lifestyle!" I thought: what am I getting myself into? Is it that serious? What kind of commitment is required? Natural hair requires quite a commitment in and of itself. Since I have worn natural hair for so long, am I more prepared or less prepared for Sisterlocks? I do not yet know the answers to those questions.


Maryee said...

Have you gotten locked yet?? If so, how'd everything go?

Carmen In NC said...

I like that coiled style. I bet we can do that with these locks too... yeah.

blackrussian said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
blackrussian said...

Thanks, I think you're right!I think it just needs to be a little longer. I'll try it in a few months.

Aya said...

You have quite a bit of hair even when blown out. When you get your sl's they will look great. You'll be surprised how you can mimic styles you are already doing. Are those two strand twists you're sporting? They look good.

blackrussian said...

Yes, Aya, the picture above is from almost 3 years ago and I am wearing twists. Like you, I often had people ask me if they were locks.