i loved my first set of dreads more than i love this set. i think there are a few possible reasons for this.
i created set one in 1997 with NO information, NO help, NO communities or websites or others around me, & i also stuck fairly close to "natural" because that's all i knew. knottyboy/dhhq sites didn't exist. i didn't know ANYONE in my town with dreads & had no way of contacting dreadheads elsewhere, like we do now with gudu et.al. i used to regularly have nightmares that they were falling apart, or had been cut off while i was sleeping, or that i'd cut them off myself & regretted it - & each time i would wake up, touch my head, & be hugely relieved that my dreads were still attached & healthy.
this second, current set was started with the five years' of experience i gained from my first set. i backcombed them like mad, which was a technique i didn't even know existed until knottyboy became more popular & they wrote a text on it. it took eight months for my first set to look as good as my second set looked on day one. & in the year this set has existed, i haven't had any nightmares about them - though my internal self-image has changed accordingly, because i DO regularly have dreams where i have my bright red dreads; it's just the dreams aren't dread-centric.
i've begun to wonder if i love this set less because they were backcombed, created quickly with very little stress, never had the difficulties in forming that "natural" dreads have, et cetera. if it's because these dreads & i never got to "bond" through forced patience & a multitude of bandanna days & hating each other until locks started to form - on their own. (this also might explain why we see so many backcombed dreads cut or brushed out early in their development - there's no bond to break.) but maybe my lack of love isn't related to their creation, & is just because i so feared having those first locks taken away from me, & i don't have that fear since cutting & regrowing dreads on my own terms.
though i've said here that i wouldn't go "natural" again when i have such genius & fast results with backcombing (& because i so love to fuck with my hair), i think my third set actually might BE "natural". what that means to me is no backcombing, no wax, no sewing needles, obviously no rubberbands - but also no dyes... or at least no constant dyeing, heh. (a couple splashes of color here & there, perhaps.) a little root separation to avoid the beavertail, playing them between my fingertips when bored, but no real palm rolling or root rubbing or any of that. & if i do this, i'd have to start my third set when i'm older, so i have more than just a few sporadic gray hairs - the inadvertant hiding of grays is one of the few reasons i DISlike dyeing my hair. it will be the first time since i was fifteen that i've grown out hair all over my head & not had an undercut or a mohawk, & the first time since i was thirteen that i haven't had some sort of unnatural color in my hair. my plan would be to grow it all out
to shoulder or armpit length, then let it really go on its own & see what happens. go for really fat "natural" dreads like nocreamcorn has - my first set was "natural" skinny dreads, & i definitely think skinny dreads turn out better when backcombed, at least in my hair type.
...or maybe i'll say fuck it, let my brushable hair grow long & go for thick-assed backcombed dreads like agulina (formerly ninepoppy) had. we'll see. i'm sure i'll still be posting/reading here when it happens.
anyhow, this isn't a eulogy - i'm not cutting this set. i still love having dreads; i just don't have AS MUCH love for these locks as i did my first dreads. & it seems everyone agrees with me that my locks look fantastic, anyhow. :) & of course i thank this set for this particular experience, especially since i probably couldn't have attained "natural" locks with my current job anyhow - for those who don't know, i wear one of a dozen cancer hats over my dreads every day, with just my bangs & sidelocks sticking out (see pics below).
so for now, i see myself keeping my red dreadhawk for several more years, letting it grow to waist-length (i often trimmed the first set; the longest i let them get was about mid-back), & enjoying the tattoos that will unfortunately be covered as soon as i start growing out for my next set. so, to celebrate one year of my crazy red dreadhawk, on to the photos.
damp from the shower:
& here are a couple pics of me at work. yes, they somehow all fit in there.
i did have a friendly-fire casualty: i ditched the tiniest dreadlock back in mid-november. i'd only expected him to hold together for a couple months, but he was happily going strong & growing LONG since i created him in JUNE, & he was just too annoying to have around, always falling out of my hats & shower caps & finding just ONE tiny nape hair to tug on painfully. i'm happier with him gone now, but it was fun while it lasted. :D
finally, one year math:
an average person has 100,000 hair follicles on their head. i have a dreadhawk, which accounts for an estimated 3/5 of a head of hair, so 60,000 of my follicles are involved in my dreadlocks. the average human loses 50-100 hairs daily from a full head of hair, which means i drop 30-60 hairs per day into my dreads, or 10,950-21,900 hairs over a period of one year. so, according to this, my dreads are now 18-36% heavier than my 'hawk alone would have been. :D