How I see It

Archive for August, 2016

Everyday People – August 30th 2016

I met Robert Adams today. He’s a tall African American man with dread locks that reach the small of his back, pulled in a low ponytail. When I first walked into the historic looking high-rise building on Vermont avenue NW, Washington DC, he greeted me with charm and eloquence. He had been typing an email.

“Hold on a second, I’ll finish this email and I can be out of your way”. Just a moment later, he asked – looking down at his computer screen; “So are you in school? Or…” I smiled and told him my education spiel and how I’m working a new job now in addition to this concierge gig (updates about this in a new blog coming soon).

In the few minutes we talked, I found out he’s been playing guitar for 40 years.

“OMG that’s crazy cause I sing too!”, I said, gushing as he pulled his guitar from under the concierge desk and put it in its bag.

“Well then, you should come to our Live Music Monday shows in Silver Spring” he said, the sound of his guitar bag zipper subtle but noticeable as he spoke.

For a moment, I did consider it. I mean, I’ve been thinking about a venue where I can sing with a live band and just have a relaxed time on stage, sharing this gift that God bestowed upon my vocal pipes. As I processed his invitation, he pulled out a card and handed it to me. I looked at the card thinking; I’ll keep this. Maybe one of these evenings. Who Knows? 

“I wanna learn to play. I bought a guitar once, and my fingers just wouldn’t cooperate.

“Hah! see? You know what they say… when the student is ready, the teacher will appear”, he said in response. I smiled at his subtle invitation be my teacher.

A few minutes later, his girlfriend came down to meet him in the lobby for their lunch date. As she stepped out of the building, he stayed back, pulled out a black newsboy hat, the kind with extra room for long locks like Bob Marley’s, and he put it on.

In that moment, I saw the artist in the man. He had gone from a suited up, prim and polished look, to an approachable lover of the arts, just by adding a hat and removing his name brooch.

When he finally stepped out to meet his woman, no sooner had they taken 3 steps before he extended his left hand and placed it on the small of her back; a gesture of protection, and affection. I smiled in admiration as they disappeared down the rather quiet street.

I met Robert Adams today and I saw the meaning of simple happiness. I saw love, passion, art, and life in his eyes and heard them in the words he spoke. It was my pleasure Mr. Adams, and maybe I’ll visit and listen to your show one of these Mondays.

 

My Weave Life

I’d always dreaded the sew-in weave. There was just something so western about it that I didn’t quite appreciate -not that I have anything against the silky western hair. Thus, for the majority of my young adult life, I didn’t indulge in the bliss that most black women feel when their hair extensions sway in the wind, the way typical course and curly African hair doesn’t. I didn’t mind at all.

Braids have always been my thing. Hypocritical right?  Yes, I know. Installing those requires using western synthesized hair. To me, however, the feeling of picking out small chunks of thick, sponge-like, curly hair and plaiting them to create long single tresses that echo a lock-like natural African look, somehow makes a difference. In my mind, the African-ness of the style makes using synthesized hair not so western. Somewhere in between, the straight, silky locks become an African thing.

I had a crochet braids phase. One of my closest friends talked me into doing that. She said; “It’s not like weaves. You crochet them into your cornrows with a pin. They come out looking like single braids but a lot fuller. To the eyes looking at you, the hair looks like regular braids.” Yet, I still dreaded it so much. I mean it’s practically like sewing in hair extensions, except you don’t sew them in, you crochet them in. Still, it involved covering up my natural hair and wearing fake western hair as if it naturally grows out of my head. Even the convenience of how little time it takes to install and how gorgeous the curls look, did nothing to soothe my fear of looking inauthentic. But at some point I gave in at her insistence, and I’ve tried it twice before.

Please don’t think of me as some high and mighty girl who thinks she’s so much more African than the next weave wearing lady out there. If we’re being completely honest, my dislike for weaves and hair extensions in general was more rooted in my fear of looking too mature. I mean, I’m a 24 – year- old who looks like a teenager. I love it (to a certain extent). Plus, I’ve used hair relaxers and texturizers before. Those are western products that make course hair straight and silky. I’m definitely not innocent of western influences on my hair-care routines.

Perhaps it was that guilty feeling that led me to finally give the weave thing a try. Well… that and the persuasion of my best friend, who completely believes that I can totally pull off any hairstyle regardless of its ethnic affiliations.

I let his praise seep into my subconscious and riding off that high, I dared the dreaded weave-on. I took the plunge into the cold depths of the sew-in sea. I was bold about it too; the extensions I picked have a light-brown, borderline blonde color. I also chose a stylist I believed had experience installing such extensions and I explained my non-existent weave history to her, as well as my concern about what I’ll end up looking at when I stare into a mirror everyday for the next month or two.

To slash a long story in half, I will say this; My stylist did an OK job yet my best friend is completely in love with it. I’m neither thrilled nor turned-off. Don’t get me wrong, I think it looks fine… strange, but fine. Maybe I’ll be more ecstatic about it when I get used to seeing myself wear weaves – if i do it again. My brothers laughed their lungs to the floor when I stepped in the house yesterday. They thought I looked ridiculous. My mom isn’t too thrilled about the ‘do either.

I went natural a year ago, so my hair is short. The black ladies out there rocking their natural curls would understand how essential it is to keep natural hair protected and healthy. Protective styles are key and sew-ins happen to be one of the best options. It’s either I do that, crochet or single braids, which I’ve done so many times already. The other option would be to get a sassy Halle-Berry-like haircut, which I’d rather not do, considering I’m still recovering from my ‘big chop’. That said, it’s either I get with the weave life, or stick to the single braids/crochet look for God knows how long, until my natural hair is long enough to be style versatile.

Oh the struggle!