“Are you sure you want to do this?”
With that, the clippers contacted the side of my head and a huge clump of my curls fell to the floor.
“There’s no going back now!” Sam cackled.
That was over 2 months ago when my barber Sam cut off all the hair I had been growing for 17 months. I had reached a breaking point with it and wanted to decide by my birthday, January 22nd whether to keep it or cut it. Until today, I thought I made the right decision.
My hair has been growing since January but I definitely miss my hair.
Look, I was tired of curls being everywhere in the bathroom and the shower. I would get frustrated when it wouldn’t lay the way I wanted to and I gave my entire head an awkward shape. I didn’t want to keep shelling out money to keep it braided at least once a month. And I definitely didn’t have the patience to learn how to braid it myself.
But while I’m kicking myself, I’m also not totally regretting it.
For years, I would brush the top of my hair forward, the sides down, and top and the back backwards. I did this because my hairline wasn’t perfect and I wanted as much hair on my forehead as possible.
This wasn’t a problem until I started growing my hair. I gave it a few months and then I started picking it, like I always have. And the top of my head looked… spotty? Patchy? When it got fully picked it wasn’t noticeable to anyone but me but the different direction of brushing had had an impact.
I didn’t really think too much of it though. I was focused on getting a curl brush so I could start getting a different look than just my baby afro. Thankfully, I ran across King Bril’s videos on YouTube saying how bad those brushes could be on your hair. But also, I stumbled into the world of 4a, 4b, and 4c, because until then, I didn’t realize there were actual names for different hair textures.
I started watching more of King Bril and Juwan Gaines’ videos and began to actually develop a hair routine for the first time in my life. I used to wash my hair every single night, no matter what. But now I started washing and conditioning once a week and was actually making sure to use products that wouldn’t harm my hair. I stopped towel drying and picking my hair out dry which I had always done. My hair was healthier and I could actually tell a difference.
By the time April 2021 rolled around, I figured I had enough growth to accomplish what I had set out to do: get cornrows. I booked my appointment at Amina’s Hair & Beauty Salon and had Sam clean me up the next day. The braids lasted for roughly two weeks and so I was home on a Saturday pulling them out while I watched the finale of The Falcon and The Winter Soldier (sidebar: Please check out my most recent visit to the Superhero Cinephiles pod to hear Perry Constantine and I wax poetic about that series). When I was done, my hair was super curly but I didn’t expect it to still be curly after I washed and conditioned.
But apparently, I’ve had naturally curly hair my entire life and I didn’t know.
So by the time this past January arrived, my hair was the longest it’s ever been in my life. I had gotten braided a third time in December so Dad could see it in person when I last visited (he hadn’t seen it in cornrows outside of Facebook since high school) but this time the braids only lasted about a week and a half. I was down $80 between Amina’s and Sam to get it done. My shower was no longer dominated by my wife and daughter’s hair as mine had taken over. And nine times out of ten, my hair refused to lay the way I wanted it to if I wasn’t leaving conditioner in it under my bonnet every night (I forgot to mention that I became a firm believer in my pink bonnet and my satin pillowcase).
And when it didn’t lay right, I thought the front of my hair looked like I was balding. This brings us to today.
I really thought I’d be back to getting regular haircuts again and abandoning most of the hair routine I had developed. But it didn’t take me long to start oiling my hair nightly before wrapping it up in a satin durag before bed. Even with the little hair I had, I still was washing and conditioning once a week. And for the first time in years, I made sure to brush in one direction.
Slowly but surely, the natural curls are coming back out. E had made the comment about artists becoming even more of an artist when their hair is long. He had gone from a low cut for most of the time I’ve known him to having shoulder length dreadlocks the past few years. I don’t know if I agree but I do feel like a part of my identity is connected to my hair length now. I look damn good with a haircut by Sam; but I look even better with the curls popping. Sorry not sorry.
Aaliyah didn’t want me to cut my hair when I finally made the decision because she liked seeing that her curls were the same curls she could see on her daddy. And while I have to admit she was right, taking the steps to get my hair all growing the correct direction is going to make my hair healthier and look even better this second time around.
It’ll probably take me until August or September to get any real length back but when I do… I don’t know; just know that I’m happier with the curls than without. It’s also okay if you stop and stare because it’s hard not to watch a master when he’s at work.