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.
It 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
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…