“Waiting is painful. Forgetting is painful. But not knowing which to do is the worst kind of suffering” — Paulo Coelho
After a late night of studying the absolute last thing I wanted to do was wrap my hair. With heavy eyes and an even more tired mind, all I wanted to do was jump in my lofted bed, throw the covers over my face and enter into a deep sleep.
But anytime I got close to getting in the bed without wrapping my hair, I heard my hairdresser’s voice: “If you don’t wrap your hair, it won’t grow as quick.”
That subtle warning resonated with me and always had enough force to make me climb out of my bed, grab my scarf and comb and head to the bathroom mirror to wrap my hair. I’ve been wrapping my hair since I was 14 years old shortly after I started regularly pressing it. My hairdresser, mom and cousin told me by wrapping my hair I wouldn’t have to style it as often and it would be easier to maintain.
When I first learned how to wrap my hair I had a lot to work with. It flowed down to my shoulders. When I combed my hair around my head it took three times to get it completely wrapped and four or five bobby pins to make it stay.
Now when I wrap my hair it maybe goes around once. There’s not too much of it because it only hangs slightly below my ears. I don’t use a single bobby pin to hold it in place.
With a sigh, I slipped my black scarf over my hair and then put my black bonnet on top of it to keep everything in place during the night.
Meh. Even after eight months I hadn’t come to terms with my new short hair look.
My mom said the bob looked elegant. My hairdresser said it looked healthy. But I felt like it still wasn’t Jordyn.
Though it was 3 a.m. in Chicago, I texted my mom — who was most likely sleeping — asking if she was up. Surprisingly, she responded with “Yes.”
We had gone through this whole conversation before. I would lament about the loss of my hair due to the unwanted perm. She would remind me that it was only hair and would grow back eventually. I would push back saying that I needed it to grow back sooner. She would resign and say if you don’t like it, change it.
For some reason, those now predictable conversations got me through the night. Yes, no new revelation came from them. But then again that’s not why I initiated the conversation. During these times I just needed to be heard.
After the brief texting conversation, I reached for my computer. I googled “How to grow black hair faster.” I know, how 21st century of me. But when I got multiple sites to pop up answers I realized that I wasn’t the only black female stuck in this purgatory.
Take daily Biotin pills. Drink immense amounts of water. Exercise. Eat whole grains. Pray.
“So basically do the same things the doctor tells you to do,” I thought to myself.
Just when I almost gave up on my futile Internet search I found something at the bottom of the list.
“To grow healthy black hair, sometimes all you need to do is braid it,” it read.
I hadn’t had braids since the summer before my senior year of high school, but I hated them so much that I took them out three days later. Something about braids made me nervous. When I was little I always wore my hair braided — it was easy maintenance and my mom didn’t have to worry about me sweating my hair out on the playground. Yet, as I got older braids began to get too radical.
As a young adult growing into her own, constantly bombarded with definitions of beauty that tells me to have long straight hair, braids did not fit into my life anymore. But oddly, in a weird twist of fate braids had to be the catalyst to bring my long flowing hair back.
Overly burdened by my hair struggles and the knowledge that I had to wake up for my impending 9 a.m. class in four hours, led me to call it a night. I would handle this in the morning.
As I lay restless trying to force myself to go to sleep, I decided to shoot one last text off to my mom. I was not expecting her to answer this time. She would see it in the morning.
After texting her, I fell asleep immediately. My mind was at rest. As I closed my eyes, the glow from the text thread on my phone illuminated the decision I had made about my hair.
The text read: “Hey Mom I’m getting a weave.”
This is the third part of my series on growing my natural hair back. Though seemingly trivial, this journey has shaped me as a young adult in many profound ways and in several facets of my life. The next one will run on Saturday, January 25, 2014.