It's possible that the most effective gauge I have--for how tough life has been on me--is my hair. When I first attempted red, in a great boysenberry that remained the pigment of my senior year and college audition headshots, it was carefree. I, who have never been carefree, saw it as something more wishful. Eventually, the berry transformed into a true auburn. I played Irish, backpacking in Ireland, and Anastasia, once upon a December. I thought I would forever be a mop of red. I loved the way it complimented my paleness and, if I squinted just so, I could pretend to have freckles on the rim of my nose.
Now, the last three years have been topsy-turvy in ways I attempt to capture here (but also fall short) and two Halloween's ago was all trick- no treat. As a response to actions I have yet to fully process and to unimaginable ache, I dyed my hair black. Like my soul. Heavy enough to hold my head between my shoulders when all I wanted to do was roll way. They will write books on the psychology of Octobers past. In spite of myself, the hair color was all that changed then. It took me a handful of months before the red even began to stick to my split ends. And it took over a year for the color to be back to that rich auburn. But it wasn't the same.
Why am I telling you this? With the black hair went the piece of myself that had always been a redhead. The Little Orphan Annie in me. The Never-Fully-Dressed-Without-a-Smile part. I have been searching for her, under pillows, in corners, beneath the city streets. I still think she's lost. The part of myself that dyed her hair instead of chopping off the dead; instead of treating herself better, really did a number on the rest of me.
I haven't blamed her yet. I've spun in circles blaming a million other faces but I am angriest with me, two Octobers ago. Even before then. But for every second after.
When we forget how to love ourselves, it's a thick darkness that covers us. Heavy.
I owe myself apologies that still don't fit into my mouth. When I finally chew sense into the words, I think I will be able to breathe again. I think that will be the beginning of whatever this new chapter is. For now the outer parts of every moment are blurry. Like they aren't quite real, aren't yet my own.
Today my hair is blonde. Lighter.
I felt something shift inside me as years of color lifted away.
I'm ready to let some of the darkness go.
This is Me:
My name's Melissa. I'm the girl with her hands in her journal.