A man is as old as he's feeling,
A woman as old as she looks.
I found my first gray hair at the age of 29. My hair was considerably longer than it is now, falling about 8" below my shoulders. I was playing with a lock of it, watching the way the sun hit it, and there it was. A white hair. It was unmistakable in the midst of my light brown hair. And it was the length of all the others. It freaked me out a little bit because my dad's hair was completely white by the time he was 45. I wondered if I was destined for the same fate.
Since that time I've watched and waited for the gray to stage a coup. My hair hasn't changed drastically in the last 10 years like I thought it might, but in recent months I've noticed more and more white appearing. The grays don't really out-number the pigmented hairs. But they have become visible. Noticeable. Their appearance makes my hair look ashy. Dull. Faded.
Aging is a funny thing. Madeline L'Engle said, The great thing about getting older is that you don't lose all the other ages you've been. It is true. I still feel like a silly schoolgirl when I read a love story or see a romantic movie. I still have freckles like I did when I was twelve. I still like to sit on the floor with my feet tucked up under me "Indian style" like I did when I was five. And I still like sleeping on my stomach, which is how my mom put me in bed when I was a baby. I feel the same today as I did 15 years ago; even 20 years ago. I don't feel old at all.
I've been trying to figure out why it is that a little bit of white hair, a small change in my physical appearance, could change my perception of myself; could make me feel old. Because after looking at that ashy, dull hair for the last several months, I finally got tired of it and I had my super cute sister/hairstylist color my hair this week. It was a huge step because once you color your hair to cover the gray you have to be vigilant.
Coloring my hair isn't anything new. Although I've gone with my natural color since 2008, coloring my hair is something I have always liked to do. But this time was different, somehow. In the past, it was always just for fun. I liked trying out different colors and I didn’t care if people knew it wasn’t my real color. This time I colored my hair to cover the gray that is steadily creeping in. Something about that bothers me. Even though I tried to keep it fun by going a shade darker than my natural color with a copper undertone to it, knowing that the main purpose is to hide the gray kind of takes the fun out of it.
Maybe I'll have my sister go a tiny bit lighter next time. Because there will be a next time. I'm not going to go gray gracefully. I'm going to fight it, kicking and screaming. My next appointment is February 6th.