"I dunno," said my friend. "I can't really support your just letting yourself go."
He was speaking in reference to my ditching the dye and letting my gray hair grow out, a growing movement, literally and figuratively, during this pandemic.
Personally, I'm pretty excited to look like a witch. Or a fairy. Or simply how Mother Nature intended.
"But you're only in your 30s," my mother said when I told her of my decision months ago. "You have your whole life to be old. Be young while you can be young."
She says this because she loves me. She says this because she knows how our culture is ageist. She knows that people will see my sparkling silver strands and think of me as old. But my hair has been gray since my early 20s, and I'm tired of caring. So very tired.
In an effort to hide my grays over the years, my hair has been dyed black, chestnut brown, platinum blond, Popsicle orange, auburn, purple, magenta and baby pink. To avoid judgment, I've worn floppy hats and newsboy hats, bandanas, flower crowns, tiaras and the occasional sombrero. Reflecting on this now, I may have invited more judgment than I was deflecting.
Once, nearly a decade ago, I was in my friend's bathroom preparing to go out for our New Year's Eve celebration, when I saw my pesky grays shining brightly under her painfully truth-showing vanity lights. Ohmygosh. How did I miss those? I opened up her cabinet and found her mascara and smeared it over my grays. She won't mind, I told myself. This is a friend I used to share a razor with back in high school. But even if my friend would have been fine with it, the makeup wand was not. Mascara is not meant for such things, and it glooped and clumped in shining tar-colored streaks. In my panic to smooth out the unsmoothable, my hands got covered in black mascara. Then, quite by accident, my white New Year's Eve dress got smeared when my hand brushed past it. Then, in an effort to wash my black mascara off my white dress, I leaned over the sink and turned on the water. Unable to quite reach the faucet, I managed to get nearly every part of my dress wet except for the intended spot. Ever more determined, I pulled off my dress to wash it in the sink — only in pulling my dress over my head, I added brand-new long mascara streaks down the white dress. My friends knocked on the bathroom door, informing me we might miss our reservation and asking whether I was sick. I was directed to the Imodium A-D in the cabinet. I called to them that I was fine as I scrubbed and scrubbed a bar of soap into the white dress, essentially making the whole area a dull gray color.
When I finally emerged from the bathroom, I was sweaty and flushed from the rigorous hand-washing, had sticky black streaks in my hair, and was wearing a completely wet dress, with two large grayish marks taking up nearly the entire front.
"What happened to you?" my friend asked.
Upon further probing from my completely perplexed group as to why I resembled a drowned alley cat while they glittered in sequins and sparkles, I explained that I had been using the mascara and dropped the wand on my dress.
"Odd," my friend said. "It doesn't even look like you've got mascara on your lashes."
"Huh," I replied, "that is odd." At the restaurant, I borrowed my friend's jacket and laid it over the stains, not to cover them but to cover myself because that wet dress was freezing cold against my skin.
So very, very tired of caring.
I am my age, and my hair is my hair. Who cares that under the magenta hair dye, I've been gray all along? With everything going on in the world, it has been easy to ditch the dye. My brain is so overwhelmed by all the truly relevant things to care about, to show up for and to fight for. Sneaky silvers are the least of my worries.
Besides, contrary to my worst fears, no one who has seen me around town has judged me for my grays; they are too busy judging me for wearing a mask.
Katiedid Langrock is author of the book "Stop Farting in the Pyramids," available at http://www.creators.com/books/stop-farting-in-the-pyramids. Like Katiedid Langrock on Facebook, at http://www.facebook.com/katiedidhumor. To find out more about her and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.