My Nappy Head…Re: Natural Hair Journey (Part 1 of 3)

This Cold Hard Floor: II, watercolour and ink painting by Diedré M. Blake, 2006

This Cold Hard Floor: II, watercolour and ink painting by Diedré M. Blake, 2006

25.10.13, 13:37–Boiling water.

Freshly done Kanekalon braids over my once-loc’ed short nappy hair.  Hair type 4C, I am told.  The nappiest of the nappy.

It’s a do-over:  my hair, this post that I have written a million times over and over again in my mind.

Apparently, I am reembarking on a natural hair journey that I didn’t even know I had started almost twenty years ago.  Back then, I only knew that I didn’t want chemicals being put my hair:  no more Wave Nouveau, Jheri Curls, or relaxers.

At the age of 18, I knew that I needed to take a different path from those around me.  I decided to grow my hair out to its natural state, and then to form loc’s.  I suppose, now-a-days, one would say that I “transitioned” over the course of three years from processed to natural hair.

Okay, perhaps it didn’t take three years for the chemicals to come out. However, I did begin braiding my hair to waist-length in 1996.  I finally stopped in mid-October 1999 when my natural hair had begun to loc’ (as I had wanted it to do) :).  Thus, it was until mid-October 2013 that I wore my loc’s.

RomeIt may seem odd to some to say that loc’s have a life/history of their own…but really, they do.  I understood this to be true in late November 2010.

At that time,  I decided (or felt compelled) to cut my loc’s for the first time, from waist-length to chin-length.  This was the day after Petie, my dog, died.  I didn’t regret it…and still don’t.  Why?

Because when you wear loc’s, you trap something very important within them:  memories.

My grief, my understood existence up until that point, all of it was symbolized by my hair.  With his death, who I was then or thereafter became an enormous question mark.

I staring into a mirror then didn’t help me to make sense of what I saw.  My grief was beyond recognizable thoughts or words.

All I could do then was cut and cut and cut and cut.  With the fall of each loc’, I felt that I would find the strength to create a new path.

By the time I was finished, I recognized something that I had not realized before:  I was free of a heavy burden that had been weighing upon me, i.e. my hair.  Three pounds (3lbs) of hair had been removed from my head.  I felt lighter, freer, even if I still remained in the depths of grief.

Fast-forward some two and a half months, and I find myself far from Boston.  I am now in Rome, beginning this blog, and trying to discover who I am to become.  My short loc’s are now a source of discomfort and comfort for me as they remind me of all that I had lost prior to my arrival in the Eternal City:  my marriage, my beloved Petie, my job, my sense of home, and even myself.  Yet still, those short loc’s spoke to me of the hope of starting anew.  And so I tried to do just that…

Masque, acrylic painting by Diedré M. Blake, 2000

Masque, acrylic painting by Diedré M. Blake, 2000

25.10.13, 13:44–Boiled Hair.

Strangely enough, even though I continued to cut my hair to cheek-length in the years following, I still wanted to continue presenting myself the way I always had before, i.e. when I had long loc’s.  I still wanted to wear my high head wraps, and I did–it wasn’t the same.

Somewhere subconsciously, I understood (although I fought against it) that it would never be the same until my hair grew to its previous length.  So, I stopped cutting my loc’s and decided to wait for them to grow.  That was one year ago.

Rewind to about two weeks ago, at about 4:00 in the morning, on a Thursday, I sat in silence in my room.  A comb in one hand and a pair of scissors in the other.  One the bed: a bottle of conditioner and a bottle of water.

I had decided to take out my loc’s.  I didn’t know if it could be done.

 Common knowledge is that if you want to “take out” your loc’s, you need to cut off your hair.  I wasn’t interested in that.

I wanted to keep as much of my hair as I could–doing a serious, shaved-headed “big chop” was not in the cards for me, but neither was waiting for my loc’s to grow out and loosen either.  Thus, I turned to YouTube–who knew it was this useful–and I searched for “undoing” and “taking out” loc’s.  Lo and behold, I found some very useful information.

Part 2:   Sexuality and Hair…

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