If you know anything about me, or, less dramatically, if you have come into contact with me at least three times, you know that I often change my hair. I grow bored and dissatisfied very quickly and convince myself that if I don’t do something to remedy my boredom and dissatisfaction I will most surely perish. This has led to more hairstyles than I care to count, paid for with amounts of money I don’t care to remember.
(No, seriously, whenever I’ve stopped to think about how much money I’ve spent on my hair over the course of my life I just want to lay down in a dark room for a long time.)
I made the decision to go natural for the first time when I was 13, after a braid removal process gone horribly wrong (basically, I took my extensions out and didn’t detangle my hair before washing it, resulting in knots so resolute my mother had to cut off all of my hair). This was a lot less traumatic than it could have been, because my mother chattered constantly about how I’d have a whole new look; I could stop perming my hair and allow my hair to be curly and beautifully healthy. I was totally on board until frustration set in about three years later and I permed it again.
The second time I went natural was while I was studying abroad in England my junior year, and this time, I promised myself, would be the last time. I began researching natural hair blogs and Youtube videos and, as anyone who has followed the natural hair movement knows, this led me down a never-ending bunny hole of oils and pomades and lotions and twist techniques that I ate up greedily. I wanted to know it all. I couldn’t wait for my hair to finally embrace the coils and kinks I had denied it for so long. When I touched down on American soil, I gleefully cut off all the permed hair that was left and proudly rocked my TWA (for those not in the know, that is naturalese for ‘teeny weeny afro’).
I was true to myself; I haven’t permed my hair since then, although I have certainly gotten irritated with the upkeep and surrendered to the alluring call of braids and twists in the meantime. Battling with my hair every day just grew wearisome and I needed a break, although I knew I was damaging my scalp with the constant tugging that comes with tightly installed extensions. I knew I needed to either choose to stop getting them or deal with a funky/nonexistent hairline for the rest of my life, but the cycle was hard to break.
I had always viewed locs as natural hair nirvana; a level one could only reach through devotion and total obeisance to the ideal of eschewing all detriments to black hair. I loved the idea of locs. Whenever I pictured myself as an adult, it was with locs. With every New Year and the self-reflection that accompanies it, I would regret not having started them that year. But it was the commitment that terrified me. If I got tired of any other hairstyle, I could simply change it. Locs, not so much. They’re forever. The idea both charmed me and frightened me.
However, after years of flip-flopping, I finally decided it was time to do it. Get locs. Commit myself to healthy, growing hair, free of the torturous pulling and manipulating that I had subjected it to for so long. So I made the appointment and went.
I’m really happy with the salon I chose. It’s only 15 minutes away from where I live and my loctician is a little odd, but charming. She used these amazing oils to moisturize my scalp (I had never even heard of honeysuckle oil but I am now its number one fan) and hummed and fretted while she separated my hair into the individual sections, not satisfied until they were evenly parted. She was firm but friendly with my naivete, and offered me a bowl of delicious kale salad while I baked underneath the dryer. Before I left, she scheduled me to come back for my first re-twisting for a month from now.
I know what you’re wondering now. “So how do you like your new locs??” To be perfectly honest, I’m planning on buying a couple of hats and scarves this week. My baby locs are tiny and crinkled and completely immune to gravity. I knew this would be the case going in, however. The first couple months are going to be the worst, until my hair actually begins to lock and the locs thicken and lengthen. I’m not thrilled that I have to wait so long to feel comfortable with my hair, but I chose this, and I’m excited for the result.
That said, don’t ask me for pictures until at least around month six because you won’t be getting them.