A man on the Newark light rail paid me a compliment today and his words stunned me. He said, “I love your hair. The waves and the salt and pepper in make you look distinguished and fun.”
“Thank you,” I responding, mostly likely with a confused look on my face.
I never really think or put too much effort into my hair. I highlight it once a year, flatiron it for special occasions but otherwise it remains in a ponytail until bed time.
There was only one stretch when I was obsessed with my hair. It was a few years ago during treatment for my chronic illness/suspicion of lymphoma. My hair shedded so much I thought I’d lose it all. I’d wake up and layers of it would line my pillow, cover the ivory tiles in my bathroom, clog the drains and sometimes end up in my food. I bought a wig to cover it but I never wore it. I embraced the hair I had left. I cut it and prayed that it would be restored. It was.
I, too, have embraced the salt and pepper color of my hair. It reminds me that I’m getting older; something I wasn’t always certain I’d do. The streak are battle stripes forged by sickness, worry, stress and the effort it’s taken to overcome it all. And, I appreciate my hair’s resilience, ability to grow, and its desire to stand out. Perhaps that because those are the same qualities I embody overall.
So, I should’ve told the man I was grateful for one of the best compliments I’ve ever received. I earned this one.
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