The BIGGEST lesson of my curly-journey (|kərlē ‘jərnē| n. The course of exploration, awareness, and acceptance one travels through as related to their hair) is realizing that my hair is going to do what it’s going to do. The mantra “let go and let flow” often comes to mind when I am faced with a finished style that leaves me a little underwhelmed (to put it mildly). People often look at my hair and think that I’ve got it made. They say, “It must be nice to just wake up and go” or “your hair must be so easy to do”… Not exactly.
I think back to the countless hours I used to spend in the straight shop (aka: the hair salon). Those hours peril in comparison to the time I spend co-washing, stretching, shaking, drying, fluffing, and drying (again) my curly hair. What sets my straight shop days apart from my life as a Curly is that when I left the straight shop I was done (at least for a week or two) and my hair was relatively “perfect.” At night I would wrap my hair and cover with a satin scarf, come morning I would unwrap it and go. Average time: 20 minutes. Degree of variance from day to day: Slim to none. Talk about “wake up and go” and “easy to do”. Those were the easy days.
The life of a Curly is anything but easy. The nights are filled with protective styling (hydrating followed by twisting or braiding), wrapping (with a silk or satin scarf), and sleeping on a satin pillowcase that totally throws off my meticulously coordinated bedding. The mornings are met with my taking down the braids or twists, co-washing, applying a styling product, raking my curls, shaking, and sitting under the hooded dryer just long enough to thwart anyone from looking at me and singing the Sol-Glo theme song (or muttering “follow the drip”) as I walk down the street. While in the car I continue this “wash-and-go” process using the fans and a carefully orchestrated window/sunroof configuration to finish drying my curls without blowing them into a frizzy mess… Average time: 45 minutes. Degree of variance from day to day: 99.9%... Primping Ain’t Easy!
When the moment arrives and I reach my destination (with a routine like this it’s no wonder I rarely reach destinations “on time”) I do a last minute fluff and I am done. With all the work and effort I’ve put in, you would think that I am always rewarded with maximally stretched curls that rest perfectly upon my head… No way! There are times when I have an unbelievable amount of shrinkage, when I’ve applied too much (or too little) product, when that co-wash should have been a real wash, when one side shines while the other dims, when some curls curl, others kink, and an entire section just frizzes. This is enough to drive a sensible girl mad and my day hasn’t even really started yet.
After being on the brink of a few unruly curls ruining a perfectly normal day a time or two, I decided that I would not be held hostage by my hair. I quickly learned that my curls (much like morning traffic, that annoying co-worker, those sluggish postal workers with a line out the door, and that boy who just can’t get it right… oops, I digress) are going to do what they are going to do… And if I had any chance of being successful in this quest, I had to start accepting my curls (and their moods) wholeheartedly. So, armed with a fierce cut, a little lip gloss, some confidence, and a whole lot of “relaxing, relating, and releasing,” bad hair days are nothing more than a less than perfect day… And I don’t know a person in the world who hasn’t had (or can’t handle) one of those.