The Nature of Hair

I’ve been getting a lot of comments about my hair lately. Mostly because I’ve been letting it grow — it hasn’t been this long since I was in college — and when it gets long, there is rather a lot of it. And it is not hair that lies down and looks glossy and demure.

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I was at church on Sunday and someone else said something about my hair and then asked, “So is it hard to work with, curly hair?”

“Kind of,” I said. “I used to have a lot of trouble with it because I wanted it to do things that went entirely against its nature. As I got older I learned to work with it instead of against it, and we’ve made our peace.”

I’ve said that or something like it a number of times over the years, and it wasn’t until I was driving home that it hit me. Do you know what else besides my hair is no good at acting demure?

Me.

I think it would be fantastic to be like Grace Kelly and be perfectly put together at all times and glossily, smoothly serene, but that’s never going to happen. I’ve tried, you guys. I have tried so hard to be quieter and stop with the irreverent jokes and care more about my flowerbeds. (Don’t drive by to look. Just … don’t.) You know what happens when I try to be Grace Kelly? I am miserable, and so is everyone who has to deal with me. Like my hair, I’m hard to work with if I’m trying to do things entirely against my nature. But it is so much harder to make my peace with this than it has been to make peace with my hair.

I know this goes the other way, too. Paul has a cousin that has probably never said anything tactless to anyone in his life, because before he opens his mouth, he thinks things over for a nice long time. Like maybe a day or two. It’s a nice trait that no one in our nuclear family possesses. Some years ago, Paul was astounded when his cousin told him he’d always been a little envious — because Paul can just talk to anybody, anytime. Straight or curly, we all seem to want some of what we haven’t got.

I don’t mean this to say that I can’t change at all, or try to get better at things. How depressing would that be? But I do think things go better when I work with what I’ve got.

I will never tame my hair. There will always, always be strands that sneak out around my temples when I pull it back, and those weird Jane-Austen-era ringlets that form at the back of my neck. My hair will not behave on humid days no matter what I try.

But most days it’s fine. Probably most days, so am I, and so are you.

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