For as long as I can remember, I’ve had dark hair. A full head of it when I came wriggling out of my mama on a rainy Thursday morning in 1972. The twiggy brown baby bangs I cut myself when I was six. For a time, in high school in the 80s, it skewed a little burgundy but that was an Annie Lennox-inspired blip that didn’t last.
Throughout my 50 years on this planet, I’ve been accompanied by a crown of coarse, cocoa-brown locks. They were handed down from my mother and her mother and her mother before that. But I’m certain their roots stretch back even further… to a quaint shtetl in Western Ukraine, where they weaved across borders and cultures and oceans and gene pools to land atop my head.
But life, as they say, is change. And when that change manifested in the form of tiny silver springs bouncing out from between my ancestral brown strands, I fought it valiantly. Coloring and coaxing it back to the chocolate that felt like my calling card, like a central pillar of my physical persona. Like me.
Something happens at midlife, though. The inclination to fight what in our hearts we know to be inevitable, wanes. And after years of dying and hiding my gray hair, clinging tightly to the person I thought myself to be, I find lately that I don’t have the fight in me anymore. Instead, I find myself longing for authenticity.
Because it’s not just hair. It’s my own ability to tell the truth about myself. It’s my son – my little surprise boy who came along when I was 46 and after a lifetime of being told by well-meaning doctors that I’d never bear biological children – loving me as I really am: his silver-haired mama. And in doing so, knowing that a woman aging, showing her true colors, being herself at last, is a beautiful, powerful, sparkling thing.
I’m now on a journey to grow out my grays. It’s a process that began recently with lightening the rest of my hair so that the emerging roots blend better and make the visual transition a bit more bearable. I know there will be grief along the way – for the me that is no longer – but the me I haven’t met yet is waiting, and I can’t wait to see what she looks like.
Watching myself emerge in this way is tender, humbling, curious, and nothing short of a revelation. How often in life do we get to meet ourselves all over again?