When I was a kid, I hated getting my hair done, so there are very few kid pics of me as a neatly coiffed youngster. For I, was a proud tomboy.
My toy collection consisted of Stomper Trucks, race tracks and a really annoyingly loud ambulance that would shriek as loud as I could and find itself deep and tangled in our electric blue shag carpet.
I had Barbies, but my Barbies liked to go on road trips and flip high in the air instead of entertaining constant dress up dates with Ken.
Looking at pictures of the past, I see images of my contradictions–getting a ballerina outfit on the same Christmas as my Mickey Mouse raceway. One picture shows me striking my best ballet pose for an unbelievably lanky child and the next shows me wide eyed and happy to let the race begin.
Bless my mother for having to get me ready for church, with all the pomp and pageantry befitting our Baptist sanctuary of the day. Sadly for a denim wearing girl like me, it was to be dresses every Sunday.
I was not a willing participant in the tradition and one tradition in particular still brings conflicting thoughts into my head:
The Hot Comb.
And so, it began.
The tired, heavy metallic clank of the hot comb, the ticking and enthusiastic whoosh of gas fuel meeting flame of the burner and the unique scent of hair soon to be pressed for Easter or for some random Sunday.
I knew early that my sister and I were going to fight all Saturday night to sleep with pink sponges in our hair.
I remember it all, how to wince and complain without getting burned, the sizzle of the oils and the random times when metal grazed the flesh of the ear or neck. Because edges had to be right, every once in a while you sacrificed a quick touch of skin to get it just so.
I was the worst home salon client and now recall fondly how my mom begrudgingly did my hair and lamented my constant fidgeting.
Bless her patient hand above her cantankerous tomboy daughter. I hated the ritual, but loved my mom.
Truth be told, for my mother not being a beautician by trade, our hair was laid out. Reminiscing about these days makes me respect my mother even more for always being so detail-oriented in everything she did.
And the few times that I had no fight in me, relished the wisdom she’d impart as she parted my hair and talked to me about many things. It was as if in those moments she became a purveyor of magic and I, her willing audience.
This ancient art of hands in hair, and the weaving of tales and instruction may have taken a modern turn, and I too grown to sit like I once did.
But it carries on with our babies and with every brushing, it recreates the days when our elders weaved wisdom within each braid, row, part and curl.
And we were the wiser for having sat there, for as long as we could stand with quiet mouth–drinking in the stories that would find us smiling in decades removed.
I still most fondly cherish, however, the days of being a wild tomboy child just sitting beside her Mommie.