Growing my Roots

As a little girl, I had very long, beautiful curls. My parents were proud of how lovely my hair was; but as a tree-climbing tomboy, I found it frivolous and inconvenient. They let me get it cut, a little at a time, and eventually it was all gone. The day I got my pixie haircut, I walked out of the salon smiling. When I got home, I locked myself in the bathroom and wept inconsolably. My little brother, Josh, sweetly tried to comfort me by telling me I looked like Elizabeth Taylor. I screamed at him “No, I don’t! I look TERRIBLE! HORRIBLE!!” and wailed. Eventually, though, I got used to it and ended up keeping it short for about 5 years because I didn’t want to go through the awkward in-between stage of growing it out. I always felt weird about it, though, like my physical appearance didn’t match how I saw myself.

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My "mexifro" as I called it, around the time of my last haircut.

Coincidentally, when I was 15 years old, I got my last haircut a couple of days before I lost my virginity. I have never cut it since that rite of passage. It grew quickly over the following two years and soon was a luxurious waist-length mass of mermaid curls. They were constantly tangling themselves into baby dreadlocks and I found myself spending upwards of 2 hours a day caring for my medieval princess-style tresses. And so, at age 17, I decided to just go with the flow and allow Mother Nature to be my hairstylist. In a matter of days and weeks, my curls began twisting themselves into knots and, although the effect was subtle at first, combined into rope-like clumps of matted hair. It looked pretty damn dreadful (*chortle*) at first, but over one year’s time developed into something recognizable as actual dreadlocks.

My dreads at a little over a year, age eighteen in 2006.

For me, the transformation was both physical and spiritual. I began to get more in touch with the Earth. It was during this year of growing my dreadlocks that I first ate magic mushrooms and smoked seer’s sage. I moved out of my parent’s home for the first time. I began to experience a new realm of existence beyond the scope of my sheltered upbringing. The years passed and I made mistakes, learned about life, and grew into a young adult. All the while, my hair grew and evolved with me.

2008, three years in. Dreadlock pigtails gonna kick yo ass.

Rocky Mountain National Park, 2010. My dreads are five years old here.

Just after Thanksgiving 2011. Dreaded for almost 7 years.

At this point in time, I have not cut my hair in nine years and I have not brushed my hair in seven years. It is almost 3 1/2 feet long, which is far more than half my full height. I am quite curious as to how much it might weigh, but I will not know until I cut it off. I will tell you one thing, though: it is becoming a bit of a burden to carry around all the time. I find myself shutting it in the car door, collecting sticker burrs in it as i kneel to forage wild greens, and coming worryingly close to pissing on it if I’m not mindful in the ladies’ room. My cats play with it, my rats nest in it, and my baby son pulls on it. When I bathe, it soaks up like a gallon of water (no joke) and then takes 2 full days to dry out.

…But I love my dreadlocks. They look beautiful to me. And they hold a lot of meaning for me, having been attached to them for so long now. They are a part of my body, both physical and astral, and an external representation of my connection to the Earth Mother. They are like roots, extending out and grounding me. They are like wires, conducting kundalini electricity. They are like snakes, writhing with cosmic wisdom. They are like tentacles, groping and grasping desperately for meaning, for purpose where there is none. They are like strands of protein, mostly just keratin… dead and limp and oh, so heavy.

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~ by jessima1111 on January 27, 2012.

3 Responses to “Growing my Roots”

  1. I am glad to finally hear the story of your hair!! I had no idea you could let dreadlocks happen naturally, and have them actually turn out good. I have considered letting Cedar’s hair do that, but I didn’t know if it could happen on its own without becoming painful or really messy looking. Cedar doesn’t like when I brush his hair (and when I do, it just gets super frizzy), but I really don’t want to cut it. Any advice on letting dreadlocks evolve into being? 🙂

  2. Girl I love your hair! And even more than that I am starting to love you and I don’t know maybe I’m wrong but I don’t think I know you. But ever since you randomly added me on Facebook and I’ve been reading all of your posts you just awe me. You accomplish so many things that I find beautiful. And in turn that makes you beyond beautiful!! Rock on girl!!

    • @loving foods: Dreading hair is super simple. First, just stop brushing. Keep the hair squeaky clean, so that there is no oil preventing it from locking up. When it begins matting up, gently rip (not cut) it into the sections it naturally seems to want to divide itself into. If you like, you can use beeswax and twist or roll the dreads to make them look tidy, but I have never done that. Once the dreads are fully formed, after about a year, you don’t have to wash it often and shouldn’t so it won’t mildew.

      @Stephanie: Thank you very much for your kind words! I have to admit, I actually added you on Facebook by accident when I was trying to see who our mutual friend was. It was Beth! When you actually accepted my request, I just decided that perhaps the universe had a connection in store for us. And here we are.

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