Shortly after I'd committed myself to the joys of motherhood by undergoing the rite of childbirth, my doctor told me that my hair was going to start falling out. Appalled, I went home to stare at myself in the mirror, imagining wispy tendrils framing my face, and bald patches peeking out. I worried and worried. Then my friend told me that the hair was going to fall out because none had fallen out during the 9 months of pregnancy. (Which I hadn't noticed). I fell upon her neck (metaphorically speaking, as we were on the phone) and wept tears of joy. I was, I realized, terribly vain about my hair.
This was something I didn't know about myself. After all, I had cut my red hair very short, grown it out, and cut it again several times, even going so far as to bleach it to a funny shade of blonde/orange once. (I had a lot of fun as a blonde!) I brush it daily, but rarely style it, visit the hair dresser maybe once a year, but often hack at it myself, and wash it just enough to look presentable. Usually it is caught up in one of the funny clip thingamajiggys to keep it out of my face. But it turns out, deep down, I love my hair.
So do other people. My whole life, people, even strangers, have been coming up to me and freely commenting on how pretty my hair was. Usually this is older women, or friends of the family. One family friend said he red heads were the prettiest girls, (in a sweet, non-creepy way) and I later found out his wife, then completely grey-haired, had once sported my shade. And it was sweet when the woman in my grandmother's retirement home would tell her how pretty I was.
It gets annoying after a while, though. I don't mind the brief comment- I've learned to smile and thank the person. But some people don't know when to stop. At work one day, two of my colleagues started gushing about my hair, and wouldn't stop. I felt more and more like the 10-year-old in the room with my grandmother's friends, and not like a faculty member talking to her peers.
Lately, I've been noticing a certain shine to my hair. Not a good, clairol breck girl kind of shine. This one is the shine of aging hair. Recently at dinner with some long-time friends, we got on the topic of grey hair. They were complaining about theirs, and confessing to dying it. I said I didn't really notice any. But now I do. Right at the front- gleaming wickedly when I confront it in the mirror. And there's nothing I can do about it, except not worry. I think I'll blame it on the kids and work.