That the first set of locks I had would have been 7 years old this summer. Some folks base being a committed veteran on how long a person has been growing their locks. I have to base it on how long I've been trying. Still, I hesitate to call myself a lock veteran or anything like that because I just don't have the length to support that claim.
I cannot even explain how much it means to me to wear locks without getting emotional. It chokes me up. Makes me angry and frustrated that they just won't grow properly. I can't properly describe how I felt when after washing my hair one day, while oiling it, I felt the first thin-rooted lock. How desperately I hoped it was a fluke. How despondent when I realized it wasn't.
Yet, I absolutely cannot stand when folks are sympathetic about my hair. Losing the first set, I would have been open to sympathy. This is what, the fifth set? I've lost count! I don't want sympathy at all!! Maybe empathy. But I don't really know many folks who empathize. At this point, it's just what it is.
DH has beautiful (I mean gorgeous) locks that have grown past his bottom. I laugh because when we met 5 years ago, he had some loose hair in his "kitchen" that are now full-fledged locks over a foot long. I can't believe his good fortune sometimes! I often think that, theoretically, I should be jealous, you know, of people with long, beautiful locks. But somehow, I'm not. It's separate . . . I don't want someone else's locks. I would have liked to have my own!
It has been such a tumultuous journey and struggle trying to grow locks. I started off as a loose natural, and locked because it meant commitment to my personal politics and to my spirituality. My personal politics and my spirituality have matured and changed over the years yet locks have always meant and still mean so much to me. My locks or lack of locks has been the source of a lot of hurt (I have been trodding in this RastafarI trodition where locks are the hallmark of ones who trod). To not have locks . . . I can't help but wonder how many people have questioned my commitment. I can't help to feel slighted when ones and ones will hail (greet) my Kingman (DH) but not give me a sideways glance. But I realize too, that those who matter don't mind and those that mind, don't matter. Because the sistren and bredren that mean the most to me in this world would still embrace me. Even if I were bald.
I have come to terms with the fact that my locks will never be long. It doesn't seem that my hair is strong enough to handle the weight of locks. And you know what? Even if I did find some magical potion that would strengthen my hair and guarantee that the locks would grow and wouldn't thin at the root and snap off, I'm not sure I would grow locks again. My spirituality has changed. How I view Jah has changed. Who I am as a person has changed. Your 20s are about changing and hopefully growing. Whereas I used to be highly concerned that I "looked the part", I'm no longer interested in being categorized or boxed in. I'm looking for true freedom and not a rule-book to follow. I'm learning how not to care when people look at me and make a whole list of assumptions based on what they see or what they think they see.
I remember as a little girl seeing people with locks. They were few and far between. I realized way back then that the only way I would have long, flowing hair would be to grow locks. Interesting. I ask myself if growing locks is really just my way of dealing with the Eurocentrism that says that long, flowing hair that blows in the wind is what is more desirable than hair that grows upward. I'd have to say, yes, that this has played a role in the drive to grow locks although I'm not quite sure how big a role. It's in there somewhere though. Yes, I do believe I'm conscious. Hip to the game, if you will. But that doesn't mean I'm not working to undo years of conditioning/socialization.
So there's the spiritual aspect and there's the vanity aspect (because, let's face it, locks are beautiful on men, women and children ) and there's the not-quite-yet resolved in my mind political aspect to growing locks (on the one hand, locks have for me represented rebellion and a certain consciousness but on the other hand there's the whole length/hair growing downwards issue because as a woman, I've been socialized to feel that long, downward growing hair is a woman's glory and beauty).
Nonetheless, I'm holding on to this set for dear life still though because right now, 2/3rds are either gone or on their way out. But I have come to terms with it. I guess, at some point, you would have to. I'm actually kind of looking forward to being a loose natural again. Kind of. I have to go buy some good brushes and combs. Refresh my braiding and twisting skills. Just get into loose natural mode again in a way that meshes with my new life as a busy mother (I just don't have 45 mins. at night to deal with my hair anymore--I used to watch t.v. while I twisted it or got it ready to be styled in the morning. Now . . . Watch t.v.? What is that?) I wonder if I should just wear a short, tight afro. Keep it short and sweet. I don't know.
The question right now is should I cut them now or just let them naturally do what they're going to do. My sister thinks I'm prolonging the inevitable. DH thinks I should do choice two and secretly, I'm hoping that I will experience enough new growth to maybe wrap the new growth around the weak locks and strengthen them. Already, areas where locks have broken have about 1/2" of growth stretched. Okay, I know that is far-fetched but . . . I'm going to keep them till at least they reach they're one year anniversary. I keep hoping that maybe I'll discover something that will keep these locks on my head.
I tell you this, though, this is my absolute last set of locks for this lifetime. Sounds so final, doesn't it?