Life is full of things we wish we could be rid of; grackles, mosquitoes, stretch-marks, obnoxious drunks in restaurants… but I have one that lies in wait. I knew it would resurface soon. Its evil shines through the stark white, dead appearance; its lack of color demonstrates the cruel lack of emotion. It’s my deployment hair.
It made its debut in 2007 the night before I sent my newly wedded husband off to training at Fort Benning. I stared into the mirror and saw one white hair. It was dead center of my head and stuck straight up. It was like shirtless potbellied drunk at the Superbowl yelling, “Hey! Look at me! I’m prominent enough to be a tourist attraction!” Naturally, I yelled, showed my beloved what the stress had already done to me, examined my face for laugh lines, and yanked that bad boy out by the root. I’ve searched for this hair a few times and it always lurks down below the auburn until a few weeks before deployment. It has a friend now; the “mom of a boy” white hair. My mother retained her auburn hair color until my brother. Those who know him and especially remember him as a child know full well why my mother is now a mix of blonde and platinum. Quite frankly, I am amazed she has any hair left; between the three of us and a dog who set new standards of flatulence she certainly could have ripped it all out and been justified.
Yesterday at the bathroom mirror I saw it once again. It was white, long, and wiry. All youthfulness drained from my body. At least it’s just the one hair; I could have had one per deployment or overseas assignment. Of course, I plucked that sucker out, gave it the evil eye, and tossed it away. (I believe the experts call this stage denial.)
Now, my husband has recently realized that I grew up as a GIRL in the 90s. Thus, I have spent many evenings reliving his childhood by memorizing the names and figures of Transformers and GI Joes, while also listening to his rants about the lack of security and the lack of planning by the decepticons and Cobra. Whew. The one figure I do appreciate is Rogue from X-Men. Unlike the new non-animated movie where Rogue lacks the awesome superpowers and red hair, the cartoon shows Rogue as a sassy redhead with a patch of white hair that usually sticks up in a nice wind-blown look. I figure that with the neon-80s look returning and my secret love of yellow spandex (thank you, Wolverine) I have a back-up plan if my white hair really gets out of hand. With the proper combination of hair spray and a sweat band, I think there is great potential for me to pull this look off. If nothing else, people will take pictures of me and I will find myself on a Wal-Mart people picture montage.
I used to be mistaken for a student in the high school copy room. Now I get ads for AARP cards in the mail. Truly. (In my defense, the Texas Roadhouse Early Bird Special is a good value and leaves a necessary buffer for baby bedtime). There’s really nothing wrong with getting older. There are lots of benefits. I’d never want to go back to age 13…at least unarmed.
I’ve decided white hair is a rite of passage. Like wrinkles, uncool clothes, and horrific shoes our grandmothers wore that now strike us as “comfortable”, there are things that are inevitable. There are just marks that come with experience. Some scars boast, “I survived!” and some hips boast, “I carried multiple children and can seat 2 faster than a Cheddar’s waitress.” Some haircuts boast, “I am WAY too into Justin Beiber” and some tattoos boast, “I have no spelling ability- and neither does my tattoo artist.” Personally, a shining moment for me was when my son was 5 weeks old and I was literally in the middle of a cross-country move. My younger brother was making mom-jokes, so I told him I got a tattoo around my hip. He gave me a look of doubtful, intrigued respect and wanted to see it. I led him into a side room. “Don’t let Mom see. She’ll freak out. I got tiger claws ripping up like a scratch. It looks like lightening.” I lifted my shirt and showed him stretch marks that clearly showed my waist had recently had its own orbit. He screamed and hid his eyes like I had hit him with acid. One point to the older sister tally. We are now even for the time he threw all my clothes into the pool and left me with no clean, dry underwear to wear to church after my shower.
Chances are your body has some identifying features- hair color, scars, tattoos, birthmarks… but they tell your story. One of my hairs says, “Life sometimes loses its brilliance. Sometimes you sacrifice and something less colorful is left behind. Oh, and I’m training to be a flying, strong super hero with a southern accent that can take you down.” In a few years I fully expect to have several white hairs. Heaven help the stylist who asks the source of the white. One will be the deployment hair. One will be from my son rappelling from the balcony with suspenders. One will be from his streaking at the church picnic. One will be from his first broken bone. One will be from his first attempt to create an indoor pool. Etc. For the moment, I think I will just rename the deployment hair, “Rogue.” It stands out from the crowd and will remind me of my superhero potential. Cue the X-Men theme; I’m on a hunt for a sweatband and a teasing comb.