“Oh I love your hair!” you say, as you reach out to touch it
I wince and half-smile as your fingers tangle up in my Afro like an intruder,
An unwanted invasion on a Monday afternoon.
Not too long after, come the questions.
A flood I did not sign up for when I walked into the gym,
Nor when I walked into the X-ray room at the dentist’s,
Or even when I walked into our shared workspace.
“I swear it was long last week, did you get a haircut?” you ask
Like on many other occasions, I try to explain the concept of hair extensions
And protective styling, but your face scrunches up in confusion,
And only more questions come.
You don’t understand how I could possibly sit for 8 hours to get my hair braided,
And how on earth do I use a needle and thread to attach a weave on?
You can’t fathom how my hair could shrink when it comes in contact with water
“Where did all of your hair go today?”
I wish you knew that your questions were exhausting
That, although asked innocently (presumably), I’ve already answered those same questions five times earlier that day.
I wish you knew that sometimes, I just want to sink into the crowd unnoticed,
But your loud compliments and exclamations over my new hairstyle quash my camouflage.
If you only knew also that your claims that I look “exactly like your friend Theresa” because we wear the same hairstyle, are neither flattering nor rational
Perhaps you would consider my peace before you spoke them.
It’s okay to be confused when I go from long, blonde hair to a shorter Afro next week
It’s okay to ask because you do not understand the complexities of my crown
I too, have had questions about it.
Questions for God about why He did not bless some of us with straighter, looser curl patterns
Or why life couldn’t be a little simpler than it is with this kinky mess.
But this kinky mess is my kinky mess
To have and to hold and to love till death do us part.
I no longer question the tight, sometimes frustratingly undefined nappy curl of this, my crown
Because I’ve come to understand that my hair sets its own boundaries,
Its own standards of beauty.
It defies gravity and stands up for what it believes.
(If you don’t believe me, look for me on a windy Nova Scotian day).
So the next time you feel the strong urge to run your hands through my hair without asking,
Or when you suddenly feel the irresistable itch to play a game of 21 questions with me,
Stop, take in a deep breath, remain calm and repeat after me:
HER – HAIR – IS – NOT – MY – PLAYGROUND.