Every now and again shells clink around my ears and I’m reminded that I have locs. Not in the forgotten sense but more like they’ve become so natural that they’re just “me”. And as strange as that may seem, it wasn’t an easy task when I entered into the natural world.
Growing up there weren’t many women around me with natural hair. Of course there were the older women who at some point decided straighting, perming, or curling wasn’t worth the hassle but for the most part I grew up in a straight world. “Nappy rarely meant happy”, after all there was the wash, grease, and hot comb routine, or you were hotly permed into flat head submission. I dreaded the moments when my natural hair would begin to show and I knew what was to follow. It was a program that followed me until a little after I turned 20. Maybe it was life after “Badu” that actually caught my eye but for the first time I considered going natural. And then something miraculous happened. I stumbled across a Dominican hair shop. You have no idea. Armed with a brush and a hand held blow dryer, these ladies would make my hair bounce just like women on TV. And without the chemicals! Some serious hair homage needs to be paid to those women because for over two years they kept my hair flowing happily and all I had to pay was $10. Yes, “only 10 dollars”!
Even a good thing gets tiring and after a while and I wanted to be natural all of the time. The day I moved to Fl, I decided to take that plunge. New life, new friends, new beginning, well why not. There were a lot of reasons why I should have waited but that’s another story. After talking on the phone a few times and arranging things, off I went to get my locs done. I was full of images of what my hair was going to look like, how thick my locs were going to be, what color I would dye them if I ever decided to do so. By then I’d been natural for about two and a half years so they would at least be the length of my index finger. Yes, I measured my index finger.
The next part of the story gets hazy and not in that “so full of love way” but in the “girl you are not going to even believe what happened” type way”. My latest blow dry was over 2 weeks old so I was in need of doing something with my head. Talking about locs as she’s combing my hair into a pony tail she asked why I wanted to go natural. There were many reasons and even more that I don’t remember telling her because in the middle of my story I heard a clip. The loud type of clip that makes you turn around to see who was getting there hair cut. My pony tail was in her hands, she cut off two and a half years of natural growing and bonding with my kinky hair. She didn’t realize my hair was natural because it was still blown out from the great Dominican shop. As soon as she washed it she would have seen that I was completely natural. I went from a “Sweet Dream” to a “Beautiful Nightmare” in less time than it took Beyonce to sing the words.
I always remember my reaction differently but by the end of the story, she did my locs free and I vowed to never go back again. The story could end there but it was when I looked in the mirror that the journey actually began. Who was that looking back at me? The image looked like my face and moved when I moved but why did my ears seem so large? Were my eyes really that bright and dark at the same time? I was seeing myself without the shield of my hair and I didn’t know whether to love or dislike what I saw. Now it seems crazy to me but I didn’t realize how important a role your hair can play in your appearance. I was so ready to be natural that I didn’t realize I’d convinced myself that even natural was supposed to look a certain way. Week by week, twisting after twisting, I accepted not just my hair but myself. My ears are a little large and so is my head actually but that’s ok. I realized that I like the thickness of my lips and my nose actually flares when I’m upset or really intrigued. My eyes often say much more than my mouth so I’ve learned to watch where I point them.
I’ve had friend’s burn sage under them and some have helped me twist them while others ignore the general rule and touch them without asking. I can tell you exactly what was going on in my life at a certain length and I can point out the ones that I like most. Every so often someone will come up to me and say, “I like your locs”, and I smile as I remember being in their shoes. They’ll be 7 this year and I feel like we have so long to go.
AtlTomGirl (aka Nykieria Chaney) is encrypting her mark on the world through her many dynamic talents. Taking the U.S. Spoken Word scene by storm, Chaney has performed at many of the world renowned open mic hot-spots through out the US. in addition to hosting gspot radio show, Nykieria is active in the LGBT community and a strong advocate of HIV Awareness.
As a Spoken Word Artist, Open Mic Host, Playwright, Radio Show Host, Motivational Speaker and so much more, she continually proves herself as an indubitable word-smith.
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