A Hairy Story

Once upon a time I let my hair knot up into dreadlocks. Yes, you read that right. A white girl whose hair dreaded naturally. In 10 months. Without any products aside from baking soda. And patience. And an ever-changing frame of mind.
Le mustache
It (kind of) started back in January of 2011. Ev and I went to see a reggae band. The lead singer—a white woman—had dreads down to her ankles. I was sort of in awe of this woman. A white woman singing reggae with dreads. I loved it.
So this is how my brain works:
I had been fascinated with dreadlocks and wanted to know more. I had taken quite an interest in 60’s counterculture and “hippie” culture so-to-speak. I liked the music, I liked the positivity, I liked the people, and most of all I liked the love. No, I loved the love. And somehow dreadlocks seemed to represent this alternate state of being, or coming into being I suppose.
So with a quick Google search I ended up stumbling upon an online community of people in various stages and methods of growing dreadlocks. Each had a story to tell. Most all of them seemed to mirror these newfound beliefs and ideas I had. I decided then and there I wanted to experience something different, so growing dreadlocks would be a great place to start.

In late February 2011, after moving in to a tiny little studio and beginning this new path to… something, I put a few knots in my hair then decided to let it do its thing.
To be completely honest, I was rather amused by the whole idea. I was going to let my hair grow into crazy, messy, frizzy, unruly ropes of knotted love and people were just going to have to deal with it. My boss, my mom, people in line at the grocery store. I didn’t care who you were, this was me. Take it in. Soak it up. Look away if you want to, and if you question me I’ve got a mouthful for ya.
Business in front, party in the back.

No one really did. My mom did look at me sideways a few times, but that was okay. My boss at the time was surprisingly cool with it, and my future boss would feel the same. Other relatives and friends would be inquisitive, but not judgmental. I actually received a compliment here or there, depending on the setting I was in… like an arts and crafts store. I liked the thought that my hair was literally an art project on my head. I always wanted to get more in touch with my artsy side, so here it was.

10 months

I embraced it. The use-to-be shy, self-conscious young adult who was bothered by what she thought everyone thought about her suddenly wasn’t any of those things. It was glorious.

Even though, without a doubt, my hair looked ridiculous I still was amazed by its ever-changing form and therefore it remained fresh and interesting. Although I wasn’t happy as it slowly but surely shrunk a good six inches to a new “bob” haircut that I honestly didn’t want. I’ve always liked long hair and always wanted long hair. Before giving up on my comb and conditioner, my hair was long-ish and I wanted it that way.

But I kept telling myself that wasn’t what it was about. It was about the journey. Life is a journey, and now my hair is on a journey. And I just have to be patient. So I adapted that train of thought for a good 10 months. Sometimes I wonder what I would look like with long, blonde dreadlocks, and then I remember the hardship of combing those suckers out and all the wonders that were found inside…
No, I’m not going to confirm any ridiculous rumor that dreadlocks attract bugs or anything like that. They don’t. But I am going to say that no matter how natural and simple your washing methods and no matter how thorough you think you are at rinsing, soap is a pain in the ass to get out of thick, dense ropes of hair. If you don’t care what’s building up inside of those ropes, fine. But if you’re like me… you friggin care.

That wasn’t what made me comb them out, though. After 10 months, I felt that I had gotten what I needed out of the experience. I went into this whole process knowing that I would keep the dreads for as long as they suited me. I will repeat no one person influenced my decision to comb out the dreads. Not even me. It was just the right time because I knew it was.

Once I realized that I realized the dreadlocks really did give me something incredibly valuable. It did help me dig a little deeper and try to understand what was really important to me by allowing me to be patient. Patient with myself and patient with things I cannot control. At the end of the journey I decided to regain control of my hair and it felt right to do so.
The process of de-dreading took me FOUR days. Shaving my head wasn’t an option, so stick that in your pipe and smoke it. NO, shaving your head is not the only way to rid yourself of dreads. Don’t believe it.
But yes, for four long days I parked myself in front of the bathroom mirror with a few sets of combs, a fork, some detangling spray, scissors, a lot of conditioner, and my camera. I finished on January 1, 2012.

I didn’t plan the timing of it, it just happened that way. It was the new year and I felt refreshed and renewed.
I forgot to mention all of the things that happened in those 10 months. Ev decided to grow his hair out too, except his curly locks decided two skinny little dreads was all he would get. He kept his hair long even after I reintroduced myself with my brush. But he ended up chopping and donating because we were getting married and he wanted to look a different kind of sexy. Not like caveman sexy is a bad thing. Needless to say I was happy when sharp, clean shaven sexy Evan returned.

We also moved out of our tiny studio and into my grandfather’shouse where we planted tomatoes and harvested his famous sweet corn and chopped and stacked wood and learned how to live more closely to the earth.

We trekked into NYC to Occupy Wall Street and took part in our own counterculture.

Oh, you wanna take over the Brooklyn Bridge? Okay!

We hiked the same mountain that we ascended 3 years prior to celebrate our anniversary (and get engaged).

We drove all the way to Key West and back and did lots of cool stuff on the way, like attend our first music festival and drink moonshine in South Carolina. We also celebrated my 23rd birthday in DC.

So I would say my dreadlock journey turned into something much greater, and I started 2012 building on all of the new knowledge that I’ve found and continue to experience life with eyes wide open. I credit some of this to the fact that in letting nature take over, I learned to relax a little bit more, become a little more aware of myself and my environment, and be grateful. Thanks hair, that was fun.

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