Photo of an inlet filled with fishing boats in Tarbert Scotland

March 18th. 2020. The calendar said simply, “10am. Hair.”  

One of many Covid cancellations. We agreed to wait and see. Set a date when the dust settled.

I never sat in her chair again. 35+ years of cut and color was over. I’m pretty sure the day was gray in solidarity with my mood. And my roots.

I once fought valiantly against drab and mousy locks. Frosted tips, beachy highlights, full brass blonde, ashy blonde, deep chestnut, mahogany.

My niece Katherine once asked, “Aunt Angie, what is your real hair color?” No one had seen it since I was 13.

The grand color finale was what I called “my stripes.” Dark chocolate brown, platinum blonde, and maroon.  A neighbor said my hair was Sherwood High School colors. Thank goodness the Bowmen weren’t blue and gold like my alma mater.

For more than 20 years I flipped my middle finger as the gray gained ground. First I battled the dark in favor of the light. But the war had taken a turn. I was fighting in the tresses to keep the wiry white wizard at bay. I swear the roots were showing before I even got to the car.

Every seven weeks I asked, “You’ll tell me when it’s time to give up, right?” The stylist quickly fastened the cape around my neck and replied, “Not yet!” Such a liar. I was literally paying her to say that.

Covid and I decided together that Mother Nature ultimately calls this one. Aging is aspirational. A privilege. Shows you just might have a story or two to tell. 

As friends experimented with DIY coloring. Or got back in the chair with a mask. I quietly held back. Let it go. Let it grow. Longest hair I have ever had.

I didn’t rush out to buy purple shampoo. I did begin to own the dialogue. Dismiss granny hair disdain. Embrace sophisticated. Woven with wisdom. Silver laced. Vintage flair. Tinsel tossed. Glitter strewn. Arctic blonde. Snow leopard (or cougar if the shoe fits).

Reactions were mixed. Good for you. So pretty. I love it. Don’t do this. It will make you look so much older. I don’t see the big deal. At least you have hair (my husband always plays the “bald” card when I get self-conscious).

My favorite was the punt. Well, if it sucks then you can always change your mind. Dye it again.

Like Tom Brady retiring (the hairstylist) twice? So not an option. Going gray. With long hair. Takes commitment. There is a visible finish line in your hair. The euphoria of breaking that ribbon can never be repeated. As Lucy Dacus croons, “You can’t feel it for the first time a second time.”

Just understand that a woman knows when she’s ready. Or not ready. No commentary needed. No intervention required. She’s thought about her hair way more than anyone else. Every possible outcome played through in her head. Three times.

Beauty’s only in the eye of the beholder. So behold her.

Alicia Keys

I am a beauty school dropout. Waving a silver threaded flag. Gray pride.

My scalp freed from chemical reactions. Burning, itching, and stained skin. No fumes in my lungs. 

My money spared from the salon. Now joyfully spent on funky hats. Dangly earrings. Cat eye spectacles.

In September I took my trauma-turned-trendy greige balayage locks to the Lochs. A thirtieth wedding anniversary trip to Scotland. Easiest travel hair. Ever. Healthy. Long enough to braid.

Looking back at photos. I don’t shudder at my aging. I see a content, big ass smile. Unburdened. Ready for adventure.

Scotland is a study in contrasts. Charcoal skies and stoney castles set the scene for brilliant shades of pomegranate pink. Lemon yellow and Robin’s egg blue and emerald green. On buildings and boats. On blooming heather. Across never-ending pastures dotted with sheep and Highland heifers.

Impossibly dreary. Relentlessly cheerful. A rainbow glimmers. A dimly lit pub welcomes you in from the rain. Mother Nature is a drama mama in the Hebrides. 

Contrast is defined as “strikingly different.” Opposites united for greater impact. Gray is not dull or drab. Gray is the contrast king. Grand Marshal of a color parade.

Truth. Growing old gracefully is accepting a fading crown. And also a slow reveal of truer, bolder colors. Of prismatic radiance. Aging is beautiful like diamonds in the sky.

Shine bright like a diamond.

Writer. Photographer. Future Master Gardener. Artsy miid-life mama planting seeds for the second half.

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