My white hairs are multiplying and I can’t pull them out.
Sometimes when I can’t sleep I get up late and count them. I stand in front of the bathroom mirror, half-clothed and barefoot. Ever since the electric blanket came into my life, I sleep warm and naked but go to the bathroom like an electric bullet – fast. I’m naked which means I’m cold which means I can’t relax and empty my bladder completely so I make several visits. I prepare for this by setting the automatic turn-off button to 10 hours. The best warm things stay warm for the duration of time that you need them.
I turn on the lights to find my natural sleep supplement but know I have to wait 30 minutes before the Melatonin kicks in. So I look in the mirror and start studying my face. The kind of soul-searching face-looking, where you look in the mirror hard to find out who you are. You’re unsettled and it’s why you can’t sleep and you think maybe because it’s the middle of the night you’ll catch it. Like a firefly or a fish. By it you mean you.
At this point I usually just end up plucking the hairs on my upper lip. I only ever do this one or two at a time because it hurts too much. Once my eyes start to water I move to the hair on my head. Mostly because it’s next to my face but I’m starting to think there’s a better chance of finding it in there, finding me in there.
I begin just by looking. Late-night foreplay in front of the mirror. I don’t touch one, not a single one. I walk back a few steps. I see how many white hairs the average person could see, just by looking at me at a comfortable respecting-my-personal-space distance away.
Then I scan my brain to think about all the people I care about enough to be concerned with seeing my white hairs. I take a few steps closer. I think of the really attractive musician man in yoga today. Oh no, the one who shaves his chest and wears little flippy floppys to the shower. When I leaned over to pass him his orange-flavoured electrolyte, did he catch any?
What about the kids I worked with yesterday, what about my favourite one, Major. Not that I have favourites but did Major catch any while we were standing next to each other in Zip Zap Zop? Is that why he gave me a less than enthusiastic high-five? Did he think I was less cool?
Now comes the inspection. I walk closer. I take two steps back because I’ve started breathing into the mirror and it’s become difficult to see. I make a middle part and start counting. I spot each one and hold it between my fingers. I feel the interesting texture, different than the rest. I start at the root and slide it through my fingers, all the way to the end. Then I let go. It usually sticks up straight because it’s wiry.
Once I’m satisfied I make a side part and continue counting. By this point I’ve lost count. Actually I lost count hairs ago. I breathe because the situation is getting serious.
I notice how careful I am. I can’t pull one out. I have never ever pulled one out. Not even when there was one, just one, over seven years ago. It started like a secret. I got angry with my best friend who told me he spotted one. He told me about his aunt who went white when she was twenty. I told him to never tell me about her again. Since then, I became a closet-counter.
By this point the preciousness is gone and it’s a free-for all. I find the longest ones. I imagine how long ago they started, what was going on in my life at that time. I find the hair from first-year University. The hair from when I painted my face at a football game and peed my pants at a frat party. I found the hair from when I cheated on my high school sweetheart with the boy who read me stories before bed, who made me feel safe even though his hands were really small. I found the hair from the summer I went Bungee Jumping in Whistler, when I learned how to turn falling into flying, to take personal trauma and turn it into art. I found the hair from when I didn’t get into an Acting Conservatory and I thought my life was over and the hair from when I did, and I thought I would be famous. I found the hair from when I ran my first half-marathon and the hair from thinking that I couldn’t.
In the same hair I found the time I opened a closet door and found my best friend and my ex-boyfriend and if I followed it to the end, I found the moment I learned to let go. In the same hair I found the loss of my great grandmother, and if I followed it to the beginning, I found the time we drank tea in her kitchen, the time we ate wild raspberry pie.
By this point it’s 3AM and I’ve gone through all the major events in my life. My eyes are wet and this time it’s not from plucking the hair on my upper lip.
I look in the mirror not at my face, but at my hair. White wiry bits sticking up and out, standing proud in a mess of soft brown. And I see me. I’ve found it.
Any significant event in my life demands a white hair. The deeper I feel, the deeper I learn and the more white hair I grow to prove it.
I’m almost twenty-six and my hair is seriously turning white. All my stories stick up like white warrior children. They stand tall and if they could speak, they’d say: “Stop shaving your chest hair I am a goddess of what is real.”
You can’t tell me that’s not sexy.
Also found in Elephant Journal: http://www.elephantjournal.com/2013/03/late-night-foreplay-in-front-of-the-bathroom-mirror-why-white-hair-at-26-is-sexy-sarah-brose/