I'm pretty new to this thing, but I checked out my interests after I'd put them in and one of them was dreadlocks and its link got me here. I've had locks since March 24th, 1998. So, that's coming up on 4.5 years. I was still in high school when I started them, and I went to a school where black girls weren't supposed to mess with their own hair and I, as a black girl, must have lost my mind when I did =)
I thought about it for two years. Asking questions of all the lockspeople I came across, bookmarking websites, reading articles in hair magazines, calling salons...Then I decided I couldn't wait any longer, and began taking out my braids and extensions and cutting out the relaxer I'd had before that, and twisting it up with wax that was really more petroleum than anything else. I did the back gradually, and then I ran out of those, so I did the rest of my head in one straight shot over a weekend. My mother was slightly shocked, but amused. I looked at my hair in the mirror Sunday evening with mixed feelings. I knew my hair was going to need to sort itself out for a few weeks, but thinking of this in such a merciless place as my high school made me a little apprehensive about the next morning.
I wore a ski cap to school. Hats weren't allowed inside, so I had to take it off, and I took a breath and said a prayer. Some rather rude people were, well, rather rude, as I expected. My friends and favorite teachers were surprised but they nodded or spoke their approval, and I didn't worry about anyone else.
As they grew out, and I went places, my mother asked me,"Do you realize how people look at you?" I couldn't decide what she meant by this, whether she meant they looked afraid or jealous or suspicious or curious or admiring, so I just took it for the better.
As I've gotten older, I have realized how people look at me. My dreads emphasize the old soul a lot of people tell me I have, and a sort of...earthiness, a calm. Some friends of mine told me that dreads have been markers of people with a call on their lives. And I feel regal, with hair like this, taking my place in a long line that is destined for something.
As far as letting people touch my hair, among good friends and well-intentioned respectful people, I feel free to let them. I like to educate people about it, to help them make a decision I pondered for so long. Littler people, you have to pick and choose. Some of them know not to pull and tug, and you can tell this by watching them for a bit.
I've got a head of mostly established dreads at this point, so it's just washing and oiling, but I've got some small ones in the back and in the front, like bangs, and those are there to remind me of the impatience I cut them off with, and to remind me that no matter how grown up and finished-with-learning I think I am, there will always be something that needs to develop and that will be struggling to exist. So each time I tug on those, they remind me of that.
I'm outside pretty regularly, and they're browning at the ends, by themselves. And yes, saltwater does help tighten them up, but I usually end up rinsing my hair after being in the ocean. And it takes a good several days to get enough sand out so that I don't end up with a miniature beach on my pillow and in my ears =)
So, hello, everyone =)