When I was in my mid-teen years, I began to study photos of my parents. My mom was and is a serious scrapbooker, so our family’s photos are well organized. I specifically took note of my father’s hair.
He was born with black hair, which I think is just the best. There are numerous heroines in novels with blue eyes and black hair–so black it gleamed blue in the sunlight (seriously, is that a real thing?)–and I wish I would’ve been blessed with the same. What I noticed, though, was how my father’s black hair quickly shifted from black to salt-and-pepper to gray.
Now, what was most disconcerting to me was how that shift seemed to speed along once his beautiful baby girl came onto the scene. Something about children causing stress? Surely that wasn’t the case!
My mother has always been a brunette, but also started seeing gray at a fairly young age. (Sorry to throw you under the bus here, Ma!)
So, needless to say, my non-gray days were going to end at a very young age.
I realize this is bizarre, but I clearly remember the first gray hair I discovered attached to my own head. I was 19, and I believe it was Christmastime during my sophomore year of college. My mom and I went to see the Disney movie “Enchanted,” and in the bathroom after the movie, I stood at the sink and squinted real hard at my reflection.
“Is that a gray hair?!” I asked both my reflected deteriorating facade of youth and my mother.
Mom comes over to inspect. “No, it’s just a blonde hair.”
But the expression on her face told the truth more than her white-lie-telling words.
I was on the downhill slide toward senior-adulthood. And there was nothing I could do to stop it.
Fast-forward 13 years.
Now I’m the one with the two small children who are figuratively (literally?) sucking the energy/color from my very existence. (OK, they’re really not that bad. This is called exaggeration for the sake of entertainment.)
At one point, my mother mentioned how she plucked out gray hairs when they first appeared (again, sorry, Mom!). So, this is what I did for a long time. But at some point…it would take too much time (and pain) to remove the hairs than to simply let them be. Besides, those wiry gray hairs grow at bizarre angles when they reappear.
And I’ve run into that question I’ve been dodging for so long…
To dye or not to dye?
I took my husband’s opinion into consideration first. He says it’s “beautiful the way it is! Leave it natural!” Well, of course he would. The man literally has one gray hair, which I discovered when I gave him the dreaded Covid-cut a few months back. (What Fountain of Youth did he discover?!) Also, I’m pretty sure he doesn’t want to listen to me whine about the hassle of coloring my hair, so he’s voting for the gray.
Even though I’m not super observant, I have the feeling most every woman in her 30s is dying her hair. Is that right? Am I in the minority here?
But I don’t want a new color! I have what my cosmetologist sister-in-law calls “ash-colored hair.” And I think it’s awesome. I used to think, “Blah. It’s brown and boring.” But it’s not boring (though it is brown). I have zero blonde or red hairs. I have a lot of wavy browns, then periodically, a crazy, curly black hair emerges. Like, what is that? Are those my dad’s black-haired genes peeking through? I should ask my geneticist husband…(y’all remind me).
So if I start dying it, I won’t be able to stop! Also, it’ll get all monochrome, as I’m too cheap to pay for highlights. That makes me sad.
But sad enough to let the gray win? Because let’s be real, the gray is winning both the battle and the war.
Got any encouragement before I take the plunge? Commiseration? Advice? Warnings?
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Firebringer by Elle Katharine White – So, this is the conclusion of a trilogy beginning with Heartstone. I adored Heartstone. Like, I read it in two late nights, then reread my favorite parts (about half the book) on a third very late night. I then scrambled to find the two subsequent books at my local library. Heartstone is a retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, but with strong fantasy ties. The Darcy character is a dragon rider who comes to save the Elizabeth character’s town from gryffons, etc. I loved it.
Well, it truly pains me to report how I didn’t enjoy the second book, and I’m not enjoying the third. I’m trying to get through it so I can move onto Fredrik Backman’s Anxious People before I have to return it to the library. The exact same thing happened after I read Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal. It’s also an adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, but with a hint of magic. I love, love, loved it. But then when I read the sequel…meh.
I guess I love the P&P storyline, but once Elizabeth and Darcy get married, the stories seem to lose their purpose and magic for me. (This is NOT a comment about life after marriage!) I just think authors kind of lose their way and get distracted by other things. In Flamebringer’s case, we’re hip-deep in fantasy, as we lose sight of what’s wonderful about Austen’s books–the relationships.