I ran my hands over dreaded hair, thick and formed. A matted reminder of messiness in process. With scraggly offshoots at the ends and the muddy brown of my natural color swallowing the blonde of a dye expired. All my hair was clumped in rogue tubes with a life of their own. It had been over a year since I could separate free strands to peek at the scalp beneath. What thrived there was unruly and unkempt. Confusing and in-the-middle. For once in my life, my hair mirrored who I was in the most overt, unapologetic way, but even then, I tried to dress it up to make it more exotic. I'd braid the chunk of undreaded hair in the front, or twirl and pin it in an up-bang. I wore my dreads pulled back, because they were stubby short and impossible to style. Every day they tightened into themselves, solidifying an ever-growing foundation of memory. In them, lived flecks of skin from persistent psoriasis, desert dust and cat dander. They sponged my environment, clamping everything in my passing surroundings.
Sometimes I got ready in the morning and wondered how I ever had the time to allot for hair styling. What replaced the time previously devoured by curlers and straighteners? How did I reallocate the money invested in brushes and product? What I had now was something I just showed up with. There was nothing else to it. A much-preferred benefit I never would have known about without wading through the ridiculous rat's nest that preceded any semblance of a dreadlock. The year spent strictly-beanies in public because I couldn't forego the awkward explanation of why I would forever ditch conditioner.
In a little under two years, I created something hinting at cool by letting so many other things go - completely. It was ugly, unattractive, misunderstood, wild, annoying, uncomfortable and incredible. To continue a relationship with something I did, at first, for the aesthetic and then for the love of it. Seeing that every day it was a fucking mess I couldn't control. And in its own time, it became a masterpiece of tangled hair that collected the world and required nothing.