I turn 40 in 21 days. My mom used to be famous in our family for saying, “I feel better at 60 than I did at 40!!” Hmmm…I am beginning to understand. I accidentally colored my hair pink last night. I’m thinking 40 might be the low tide of reasoning, funding, and energy.
My morning’s email to my colleagues at work looked like this:
1. Yes. I know it’s pink.
2. Yes. It will be repaired.
3. Yes. It’s great to laugh with me. Just not at me.
4. No. Not going to try it at home again.
5. Yes. I know you’re mostly men and probably wouldn’t even have noticed, but I feel better getting it on the table.
So, now that my colleagues are over it, and as I eagerly await the magic of my new best-friend-colorist “Camby” (she must be only 23 – I have no peers named Camby) at 3:00 this afternoon, I reflect on what has led me to the simultaneous mid-life/pink hair brink.
I think we need to call this what it is: Vanity. I am a redhead. Really, a redhead. My hair has always been my selling point. Lately, it’s rusty and dingy and alarmingly shot through with gray. I want to remain a redhead, not a very pale skinned, freckled, splotchy middle-aged lady with stale iced-tea washed gray hair. That image is not in line with my long-standing self-concept. Redheads know what I’m talking about. The ghost colored cellulite, sunburns, rashes, and trips to the dermatologist are only worth it because people rave about “your hair!!”
[Ironic sidebar: When I awoke at 4 am this morning fretting about my pink hair, I went to get a glass of water. In the kitchen, my phone’s screen showed a photo of me at age 15 before the Christmas dance. My friend Cameron had found it at her dad’s house and texted it in order to point out MY HAIR (she did not know of my pink-issues) and what a “do” it was back in the 1988 day. I’m telling you. Redheads have strong life/hair connections. Close sidebar.]
Another factor. Time. I have none. That box of color that I pulled off the bathroom closet shelf last night has been in there for four months begging to be used. Have I found a solid hour of kid/chore/to-do free time to devote to turning my hair pink in the last four months? Nope. So, when I arrived home from a rare dinner out with a girlfriend and found no husband, no kids, and a peaceful dog in my home, I pounced. A little too hard. As the color marinated, I thought “Why shouldn’t I leave this stuff on an extra five minutes? After all, it’s been almost 6 months since I colored my hair.” While I lingered, I ate a few bites of Haagen-Dazs straight out of the carton and savored the sounds of Duck Dynasty in the background. I felt so free, so adult, so empowered. ARNNNHHH. (Buzzer sound.) Bad call on the lingering, Strawberry Shortcake. Bad call.
Shall we discuss money? Oh, let’s. None of that right now either. I realize that living where I live among refugees who arrive here truly destitute, that whole “no money” comment sounds very catty. It probably really is. This is one of the struggles of integrating what I am seeing in Clarkston with what I am used to in my life. Honestly, I’d patted myself on the proverbial back for getting the $6 box of color at CVS. (Proverbial due to a rotator cuff injury from trying a 5 a.m. boot camp…but that’s another mid life issue that I won’t explore here). Being “thrifty and all” is a more intentional aspiration for me these days. (Not just because I’m being super spiritual, but also because kids cost SO MUCH MONEY. Do you know how much it costs to be in band? Or to twist an ankle? Or to run cross country? Or to buy school supplies? Or to insure two teenage drivers? Of course you do – these are rhetorical questions.) Apparently, though, you sometimes get what you pay for. My thrifty drugstore effort at beauty apparently backfired, leaving a lingering pink glow ON MY HEAD.
Last factor: peer pressure. No, I don’t have shallow friends who want my hair to be vivid and rich before they will be seen with me. It’s pressure from my son! (Those of you who know him will not find this shocking at all.) My very own 12 year old boy has spent the last 18 months – my period of gray decay – chronicling the progress of the icicle strands and letting me know just how much he thinks I need to color my hair. I laugh at him. My inner and outer selves both laugh. He’s amusing and endearing and annoying all at once. He’s 12. But, I have to admit that part of the reason I pulled the box off of the shelf last night was because I pick him up at band camp on Saturday and wouldn’t it be a fun little mommy-wink to have freshly colored hair? Not so much. I think the pink would do him in altogether.
He might rather walk home.
Or maybe I’ll send all the kids to live with my parents for the remainder of the year and then ask my mom at Christmas if she still feels better than she did at 40.
(You want to see a picture of the pink. No can do. I tried to imitate my snap-chatting 16 year old and take a few selfies, but my nose looks uncharacteristically ginormous, my hair really is pink, and the lines around my eyes are very pronounced. Let’s leave the selfies to the snap chatters and use our old-fashioned imagination.)