June 25, 2014

and before afternoon she'll shake her braids...

You know how some people have green thumbs, while others can't seem to grow air plants?  How some people can whip up a gourmet dinner with their eyes closed, while others can't cook boxed macaroni and cheese?  How some people can paint a masterpiece, while others (like me) can't draw a circle and get the two ends to meet properly?  Well, all I can say is that when it comes to styling hair, I didn't inherit the right genes.  I, sadly, am the girl who had to have her mother fix her hair all the way through high school.  When I tried to do it myself, odd things happened...

 like this...(eew)

or this (double eew---what a scowl!  I obviously didn't like the flipped up ends look...)

So you can imagine my unease when I realized my beautiful baby girl had hair that was long, and thick, and curly, and beautiful and....difficult.  
I will never confess how long it took me to twist and tuck and spray and pin her hair for this picture...

The two of us have had more hair conversations than you could ever imagine...curls, braids, french twists, "natural" (natural usually translated into looking good for two hours followed by two days of intense combing to get all the tangles out), and in her teens flat irons, relaxers, you name it...we tried it.  Home concoctions (like the horrifying night when we discovered the "African tawny gold" had turned her hair a weird ashen color, in stripes), beauty parlor nightmares with burnt hair and scalp from overzealous stylists, and lots and lots of how-to books on cute french braids.  And in case you didn't know, cute french braids are very hard to master on thick unruly hair!  

So when my daughter was preparing for her recent study abroad trip to Europe, our conversations naturally turned to how she was going to cope with her hair during three weeks with no easy access to hair dryers and flat irons.  Her ingenious solution?  Braided hair extensions!  So she went from this:

to this:

and then at the end of her trip when the braids were driving her crazy, she went "au natural" for a night...

followed by a trip to a Brazilian beauty salon in London the following morning for a Brazilian "blow-out":

So hopefully you can understand my delight when I found this poem while she was traveling...it made me smile, remembering all the times she patiently sat at my feet while I struggled with comb and brush and blow dryer and flat iron and products and ribbons and bows and hair clips and...

I'm braiding my daughter's hair,
crossing over one strand and one strand.
Leaf-shadows play on the closed blind,
rippling, rippling.
Nothing keeps in the continuum
of light and wind outside the window.
I hold wildness in my hand.
We continue, one strand and one strand,
the undulating curls and coils
falling along her neck, her shoulders.
I drop one hair, then another.
Though I'm not much good at this,
she is patient. Her head in my hands,
she leans in, tugs away, as do I,
crafting what we can of the morning.
I'd like to believe I've saved her
from chaos, but more likely,
she humors me, and before afternoon
she'll shake her braids,
let all that hair unravel.

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