My hair is naturally straight. Momma didn’t like it much so she would take a fork to some egg whites, beat ’em till they foamed, and use the mixture to stiffen my hair into the most perfect, beautiful, dirty blonde curls. We’re talking the 1930s, and back then we lived so far from the main road that electricity was simply not available. Excuses were not in order, though, so in the darker winter months, momma would fix me up next to the Aladdin oil lamp. Each night I’d go to sleep with hairpins poking at my scalp to hold in those tight curls till morning. After a while, you just get used to uncomfortable things like that. You learn to live with ’em, and sleep through ’em if you gotta.
But after 84 years of being fixed up and curled so many times I suppose my natural hair just decided to finally accept curls. Matter of fact, as of a month ago, I don’t even get perms anymore. It only takes so many hair stylists telling me that my hair will curl on its own, for me to let it fall naturally. And it’s true, I barely have to do nothing to it. It waves and curls just fine.
That’s a story of survival. From my hair to my heart, I know it to be true that ‘natural’ is an evolving concept. It isn’t how you were born, it’s what life’s trials have made of you. It is your deepest self, which is always changing and subject to the ups and downs of life’s roller coaster.
Now I’ve been down every road of pain, heartache, and misery. I’m 84 and just about every single person who had a hand in my ups and downs is gone now. Life got the best of em’ all, but I’m still here. Pain is natural to me. The only thing more natural than pain— rather, the only thing that is truly my nature, well that has to be survival.
So I suppose this will be just that: a story of survival.