I’m in a writing class for the next eight weeks. We did an exercise where we wrote a list of memories of “my first time events” without elaborating on them. We did then elaborate on one into a my first time story. This is what I wrote in the few minutes we had to write. I will flesh out more firsts to share for the next eight Tuesdays. I also welcome you to share some firsts of your own. 😀 PLEASE 🙂 It’ll be fun!
My First Time Story #1
I was about eleven or twelve years old. I wasn’t given any warning that this was ever going to happen. When I was told to come and get my hair washed, I cringed. My hair was really thick. It was a task to untangle it once it was washed. I only liked the part where it was done and I got to go outside to play for my hair to dry. I hated that in order for it to dry my mother would twist it into big chunky double strand twists though. At that age, they were embarrassing to me. They were like puffy, over sized marshmallows.
I was ready to head over to the kitchen sink, towel around my shoulders to catch any water that would drip down my neck. Instead, I was told to sit on a chair in the center of the kitchen. I wanted to ask why. I didn’t want to get in trouble for asking my mother why. Children do not question West Indian parents. So, I sat and wondered what the heck was going on. My mother opened up a box and put on plastic gloves. She smeared petroleum jelly around my hairline. She opened a jar from the box. A smell wafted through the air that was an odd mixture of flowers and rotten eggs. It was smeared all over my scalp. I sat with my head covered in this thick white substance until my scalp started to tingle. I don’t say anything. Then my scalp started to burn and I HAD to say something. I cried out to my mother “My head is burning!” She rushed me to the sink and washed it out vigorously several times.
My hair was then bundled into a towel to squeeze out any excess water. I was ready for the twists to begin. When the towel was released, my hair fell limply against my neck and tops of my shoulders. Where did my big, thick, puffy afro go? It was magical for a moment. I could swing my hair. I, like many little Black girls had only had that experience from putting a towel on my head and swinging it around pretending it was long hair. Would I have to go outside to play to let my new hair dry? Nope. It was put into hard plastic hair rollers. I was NOT going outside looking like that!
This was the day of my first hair straightening perm.
Every four to six weeks I had to go through getting my hair touched up by re-applying the white chemical substance. This is why perms are sometimes referred to as “creamy crack”. My afro would grow out of scalp and would be chemically processed to straight. At the age of fifteen, I wondered what the heck my real hair looked like. I grew out the perm and wore my hair natural for years. I had locs for a good chunk of those years. Now, I go back and forth with perm, no perm, wigs, no wigs, weave, no weave, short, long. Wearing your hair natural can be a symbol of debunking the straight “beauty standard” for hair. It is an embrace of the fact that your God-given hair is beautiful as it. It is! Right now, I have been enjoying feeling the natural coil of my kinks as I type between thoughts. Yet, I am not my hair as India Arie sang.
For me having done just about everything but a Jheri Curl, it’s a fun thing to play around with in a variety of ways, lengths, colors and textures.
OK, your turn. You can email em in if ya shy: firstname.lastname@example.org