The Wayne Stater

Hair phase that became an identity of freedom

Erika Schwartz, Staff Writer

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When I was a little girl, my hair was always a disaster area. I can remember refusing to let anyone (especially my mother) touch my hair.

I hated having my hair pulled and tightened against my scalp. I hated the way my hair looked when it was all neat and tidy. Most of all, I hated that my frizzy, wavy hair wasn’t as luxurious and lovely as my sister’s golden locks.

As my mom fought and battled with me over my tangled knots, I can still here her saying, “I can’t wait until you grow out of this phase!”

Over Thanksgiving Break, my sister and I dug out all the photos from our childhood. We poured over each photo searching for even the tiniest details in each one: a box of cereal sitting on a kitchen chair; a pair of shoes splayed across the dining room floor; a container of matchbox cars sitting in the corner. As we sifted through there was always one thing in common: my messy, messy hair.

All I had to do was take one look in the mirror and I realized: I never grew out of it. Though my frizz and waves are slightly more controlled, my hair is still as tangled and crazy as when I was a little girl. It is just a part of me now. It is my identifier. I just never grew out of it.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about roots — where I began, where each of us began. Somedays, I look in the mirror and I don’t even recognize the little girl with wild hair and matching wild eyes.

I get worried that I’ve outgrown myself, that I have forgotten where I came from and the place that raised me. I am afraid the barefoot and wind-swept girl has left my soul.

But then, I catch a glimpse of myself passing in a window reflection and for a second I can see her — shoeless and wide-eyed staring at the sun. Or if I search for the tiniest details and connect the dots between freckles and eyelashes I can still remember what it felt like to be free enough to let the earth and leaves seep into my artist skin.

During the last year I feel as though I have changed so immensely — and I hope I continue to change. But, as I do, I want to grasp that little girl’s hand and hold on as tight as I can. I never want to outgrow how it feels to be wild and free.

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Hair phase that became an identity of freedom