So a couple of months ago, i was at a Brevard-area burner shindig, talking to my friends Jessalyn and Kay. We were talking about hair, because we're gurls. (ha) I was standing there, wearing my hair back in its usual state: Two little buns on each side (no, not like Princess Leia) with an old peace sign TITS volunteer bandana. It's cute and all, but it's what i always do. Same thing every day.
Sometimes i take my hair down in front of people, and they say "OHMYGOD Starlie i had no idea your hair was so long it's so pretty OMG!!"
Yep. It's long.
Try having fine straight as fuck long-ass hair down to your butt. It's pretty. It's also a huge pain in the ass, and takes way more patience than what i have, so i keep it back, out of my face.
Jess and Kay are really good friends, and have seen my hair down multiple times.
And Jess says "You know, it's weird: Everyone i know with long hair keeps it back and out of the way."
And i said "I know. Why have long hair to begin with then?"
Fast forward to the week of Christmas. Colin and i are in the Cleveland Ohio area visiting my family (parents/brother) for the holiday. And i am in the old house that younger self more dorky Starlie grew up in. And i am seeing old friends of my former self, who are good people, but different from my tribe now, and yes, i will say it: Not nearly as cool. We will gather, children, and we will talk about Facebook games. OMG Mafia Wars OMG OMG. Really?
I was talking to my mom one of the evenings we were there. Telling her about what Jess had said about people with long hair. Feeling like a far cooler chick than the Ohio Starlie was. Looking at older photos of me back when i had shorter (and pretty cute) hair. Trying to comb out the knots in my own hair, frustrated, as i had just combed it the day before. Wanting to just flipping shave my head.
Then hair realization #1 hit me: Why don't you just cut it? That style you had it at years ago was cute. Cool idea. I think i will.
Then 16 year old Starlie's voice echoed in my head: "Hey, man, Ani fucking DiFranco! I want dreads, but i don't have the guts, or the long hair for it! I've wanted dreads for awhile! They're sexy as hell!"
Roughly 12 years of wanting dreads, but not thinking i'd ever have the guts for it.
Wanting to cut my hair anyway. Being done with the knots and the long gazillions of strands constantly in my face, or it all tied back.
Thinking of my good friend Jazmin, who is really good at doing dreads, does it professionally now, lives half an hour from me, looking for clients...
I was done. And i said to my mom: "You know what? I think i'm going to get dreads."
Fast forward to the Mitty stage: I've discussed the dread idea with Jazz by now, but i'm putting it off by a couple of months. Why? Eh, who knows.
So, here's a nice little interruption of this story, but a vital part of it. Colin had a birthday party at our house back on the 10th. I drank too much. Well, i believe 4 beers and 2 shots over the entire evening, and i had the excuse of "it's my house, i'm not driving anywhere", but i got far drunker than i intended. I ended the night - after pretty much everyone was gone - by puking. The next morning was one of the sickest days i've had in a long time. I threw up at least twice. I have a clear memory of holding a bowl under my face, having just yakked again, sitting there on my bed, shaking, tears running down my face, thinking "please god, make it stop!"
Yeah. Fabulous way to spend a Saturday night: Drunk as fuck. Wonderful way to spend an entire Sunday: Sick as hell, miserable, and seriously disappointed with myself. That disappointment was the worst.
The next day, i felt better (of course). Had the Mitty soundtrack playing. Reflected on the weekend. And i decided to quit postponing my adventures: I contacted Jazmin, and we scheduled the dreads thing for the following Thursday/Friday.
So came the dread journey.
Dreadheads use that word. "Journey". Wtf, it's just a crazy hairdo, right? It's bad enough i'm calling it an adventure, but a journey? Come on now. Right?
But i understand now. Let me explain this to those who've never been through it.
I'm not sure if the journey is the same for everyone. This was mine.
Everyone is afraid of change, and dreads are a huge change. Superficial, only skin deep to the person looking, but it is a very big change.
I finally got the guts to contact Jazz to make it happen. I decided, and i scheduled. That was the first step in the journey.
Last Thursday, i drove to Jazmin's house. I was excited and scared. She spend the day - up til 1am - doing pretty much just the backcombing. (This creates the dreads, but they're SUPER fuzzy and not locked looking or tight at all.) She fully dreaded the two spots in the front where i always color them pink or blue. I looked ridiculous. I looked like a fucking clown. She assured me it would not look that way once she crocheted them the next day, so while i didn't like to look at myself in the mirror at that point, i tried to believe her.
Friday morning came. I slept on the futon in the livingroom, while Jazz and her boyfriend slept in their bedroom. I woke up about an hour before they did, and i sat there, in the early morning light, in the silence, alone with my thoughts.
"You look stupid. Your hair is huge. You're going to look so bad with these. It's going to be awful, and then your only option is to walk around looking stupid, cut it super short (which will also make you look dumb), or pay Jazz even more to comb them out, which will be so sad."
Jazz eventually got up, and the work began a little while later. She worked all day again, tightening the dreads and making them actual dreads. The fuzz disappeared. I looked better, but i still looked weird. They were so poofy and weird.
At one point, Netflix stopped, and it was a little while before we restarted it again, so it was just silence. I sat there in the silence, letting Jazz put dreads in my hair, feeling like i looked stupid, still.
"What are people going to think?" I thought. "The folks at the party tomorrow will give me strange looks, like i just peed on the cake. MY COWORKERS! God, they're going to laugh and make fun of me and think i look awful. :("
The silence continued.
"...You know what though? Who gives a fuck what my coworkers think? Who gives a fuck what anyone of them thinks? I was not put on this earth to be liked by others. I don't do things to be accepted and liked by the masses."
Shortly before 8 that night, Jazz was done. The dreads were finished. She seemed really happy with her work, so i jumped up and went to look in the mirror. They were still weird and poking out, and i didn't know if i liked them or not. The fall of my heart deep into my gut was strong. I couldn't tell if i was disappointed that i looked bad with dreads, or was scared because fuck: now i'm stuck with them.
Would i ever be okay with this?
I went home, and was still unsure. Colin was happy to see me, and didn't wince when he saw me, so that was good. lol I messed around a little with styles that i could pull off. I played with my dreads a bit. I kept taking selfies and looking at them. We started to make friends.
Then i realized something: When done right, goddamn, i am rocking the shit out of this look. I realized that i looked sexy. (Or, at least, *i* thought i looked sexy.)
The next day, i went to a surprise birthday party for someone, then on to a friend's gig. Despite the number of friends i saw, only one person commented on the dreads (and luckily, it was a positive comment, but it did come from a woman i didn't know, who had bright purple hair. lol)
All this did was drill it more into my head: I feel fucking sexy and confident with these dreads. I feel like a truly new person, it's weird. More than anything i've ever done with my appearance before, i really feel different, in a very very good way.
And i don't give an ever loving fuck if others don't like it. It's not their hair.
I feel beautiful, i feel strong, i feel like the adventurer that Mitty and i wanted to be.
This was a crazy transformation that i did not see coming. Well, i wanted it to come, but i REALLY didn't expect it to, even in my most confident pre-dread moments.
That was the journey. The beginning, anyway. I understand now.