Last Wednesday I packed my boys in the car and headed to the beach for a couple days of camping. Thanks to a very sweet friend I was supplied with all the necessities to ensure we remained safe and comfortable. A tent large enough for the three of us, a canopy to make sure we had shade from the sun, a lantern and a few other handy tools for “roughing it”.
And rough it we did.
Since there was no sun in sight we refrained from setting up the canopy and as the wind began to blow pretty hard it was probably a good thing. I spent a few hours after the boys fell asleep wondering if there was a tropical storm coming that perhaps my handy weather app had missed. Fortunately we didn’t blow away and I eventually fell asleep, but when the morning came so did the rain. And it rained most of the day on and off. The sun never came out either, but DUDE….we were at the beach, so I flipped up my middle finger to the showering skies and we trekked out onto the sand anyway.
I was so glad we did. The rain seemed to come and go in spurts, and the water was warm, but the wind was absolutely perfect for flying kites. So we spent most of the morning doing just that. Since the weather wasn’t really agreeable to most beach-goers it was rather desolate. Miles and miles and miles of untouched beach all to ourselves and our high flying kites, it really was perfect.
While our little camping adventure isn’t really the point of this story, it is what finally sealed the fate of my hair, and it’s all relevant to the journey. My life is constantly ebbing and flowing like the ocean tide. Perhaps that’s why I find such solace in the ocean and why I’m so drawn to it. Not only the beach itself, but Ocracoke Island in particular. The fact that you have to drive your car onto a ferry and take a 45 minute journey across the inlet to get there, and then once you drive off the docks at the top of the island, it’s another 13 miles into town; a town that is merely one mile in radius. A drive that consists of sand dunes on both sides, surrounded by ocean to the east and more than 20 miles of sound to the west, you’re at the mercy of nature. I love much of the Outer Banks, but Ocracoke has touched a part of me that no other place ever has, and every time I visit I leave a bigger piece of my soul on it’s shore.
So, how has all of this led me to finally decide to let my hair dread? It was Friday morning, we packed up camp and had breakfast at Pony Island Restaurant and the sun appeared to be peeking out. It hadn’t rained since we left the campground, so we decided to go back out on the beach and fly kites a little before heading up to the ferry. The sun ended up coming out and we spent a couple hours taking it all in. I immersed myself in the ocean, watching my children jump the waves, seemingly just as in love with the atmosphere there as I. Before that, however, I took a photo of myself and it has become my favorite self-portrait to date. My hair had a life of its own and fell in beautiful wind-blown strands all around my head.
You see, I know I have beautiful hair, mostly because everyone tells me so. But it’s kind of been a burden to me in many ways. I’ve worn it long most of my life and it’s thick, heavy and sometimes unmanageable. I often pull it up on my head in a haphazard and messy way. The first time I cut it in the late 90’s I took off 16 inches and haven’t let it grow back that long since. I’ve been wearing it around my shoulders for the past 2 or so years, and it’s been a struggle for me to figure out what the hell I WANT to do with it. And now I know.
It’s the way I look at that photo and see all the facets of myself in each flowing strand. The wildness, the way each flowing piece has a life of it’s own and surrenders to the commanding wind. I’ve been on a pretty intense journey for the past few years, learning to let go of expectations, learning to allow life to happen in it’s own natural way, learning to be in love with every part of the process and to love fully each experience that I have. It’s been a challenge at times, but I have never felt so free as I do now. Everything I’ve been through has led me to this place right here and it only feels natural to continue to honor my free spirit by embarking on this journey…and by sharing this journey with anyone who cares to follow along in it :)
So, here's day 4. No combing, no brushing, but I washed it yesterday. I have done hardly anything to it except for separating and twisting a few strands that have been forming. I'm pretty sure I'll separate a little more at the roots over the next few days and continue to twist a little to keep them from joining. So far, my only issue is that the top layer of my hair is frizzy and hasn't wanted to form as much as the underlayer does, and the areas around the sides and front of my head are still looking freshly brushed (as seen in the 2nd photo below).
Happy Dreads to come! Stay tuned!!