No, not in that fun, let’s get married in New York way. I am letting my real hair color come in, in all of its striped glory.

Except for a brief flirtation with henna in the 70’s, and a startling episode of I Love Lucy red in 1991 (DON”T let your stylist enlist you as a hair model unless he is VERY specific about his intentions!) I avoided hair color until approximately 10 years ago.

Actually, I remember clearly the day I first got coaxed into highlights, or rather, I remember walking toward the train station afterward, as a very large group protesting the impending invasion of Iraq marched toward me. I felt superficial and decadent, and hoped they thought my fabulous blowout was just the way I looked when I rolled out of bed, if they noticed me at all.

But I digress. The highlights got lighter, without my having asked. A few years later, my hair goddess (SHE would never turn me red) informed me that my gray hair was coming in at such a rate that my hair would always look “cloudy” (or something) unless I went to single process color.

And that was it. Over the years, my hair stayed young as my face grew older. I feared the disconnect. I did not want to alarm strangers as they approached, expecting a girl and finding a crone. I feared the transition back to my real hair color more. How do I go to work with 2 inches of roots showing? So it was back to the chair every 6 weeks. I said I would let my hair grow out when I turned 55 or moved back to Durham, which ever came first. Those milestones were ages away.

Until they weren’t. Here I am, at home in North Carolina, having rounded the corner on double nickels,  6 months out from my last color. My gray is coming on strong, and I like it. When I moved here in June, I had a smooth, beige, blown out bob. It takes a special kind of woman to maintain that in southern heat and humidity. I am not that woman.

Apparently, I am a woman on the verge of having a cloud of salt and pepper hair. A new head of hair seems an appropriate accessory to a new stage of life. Having solved the weighty issue of what to do with my hair, I can now move on to the trifling issue of what to do with my time.

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