Bali has a beautiful way of presenting opportunities that you ask for. I had been wanting to cut off all my hair for a few months before I was given the opportunity. In addition to the environmental challenges, along with the need to be resourceful with hair care products and ingredients, there is the challenge of finding a specialist. This last challenge is both hard to say and do while living on a small island in Asia. There are not many beauticians who know how to or want to cut curly afro hair. However, when you ask Bali for something, Bali will respond in kind.
Shortly after my 28th birthday I realized I needed some kind of change. I was stressed out during my emotional process of evolution, feeling very un-accomplished and still searching for purpose. I wanted some kind of fresh start. I needed to clear my head, and so that is what I did. I cut off my hair. I was ready to let go of my hair; really ready. The simple fact is, hair grows. It wasn’t detrimental to loose since I knew it would come back and the process of taking care of your hair- healing it to grow healthy and strong- is both physical and mental.
Less than a week later, a Japanese beautician came to the co-working space I frequented to give the members free hair cuts. The timing of this was rather astounding since I was still mentally in a daze and there seemed to be no prior announcement for this serendipitous arrival. Nevertheless, I was extremely grateful for the experience.
When I met my beautician for the first time on the balcony of the co-working space, overlooking the tropical foliage, she was way more excited than I thought she would be to cut my hair. She had never cut afro hair before and was so elated to have the opportunity. I was excited to let go. Being the only black girl in a foreign place is a fascination. Being the only black girl in a foreign place and allowing people to see part of the process of being a black girl is awe-inspiring. Because I knew the staff and some other members at the co-working space, I was encompassed during my process of separation. With every cut, I could feel my head getting lighter and lighter and once it was all gone, it was like a huge weight had been lifted. My lovely beautician did her absolute best to give me a short fro but knew nothing about shaping the hair or caring for the fresh cut. Nonetheless I was grateful for her attempt.
Once the cut was completed, I went back to my seat and continued working on my research, humbled by the compliments I was receiving. It was no less than 20 minutes when I remember that there was still some work that needed to be done to my hair in order to protect this fresh cut from damage. I quickly packed up my computer, wrapped my hair, put my helmet on, got on my motorbike and drove back to my back to my place. When I got home, I grabbed an aloe vera leaf, smoothed it out it’s gelatinous liquid, sat down under the now overcast sun and applied it to my hair. Through previous experimentation, I learned that I because I have low porosity hair and need some heat to keep the cuticle open, I could sit under the partly cloudy sun to keep my hair both damp and warm for maximum absorption. Once my hair was fully covered, I wrapped that in a plastic bag for about 20 minutes and let it sit, while I sat. A quick rinse to remove any pieces of the leaf that was left on my hair was followed by a quick concoction of conditioner, olive oil, castor oil, tea tree oil and coconut oil. All I could do from that point was let it dry.
After all was said and done, I looked at myself in the mirror. It felt as if I hadn’t seen myself in a long time. I just looked at me. More than just my hair was gone but at the time, I didn’t know what. My crown felt much lighter. Hair is heavy and if you have a lot of it, you re carrying a weight on your head everyday. I never realized how heavy my hair was until it was all gone. I love my hair. It is a part of me but never defined me. It helped me realize me and has been part of my journey through discovery. We have been through a lot together: hot presses, blow outs, a dabble in relaxers and color. My hair has been a tool for expression, evasion and personal growth. Once it was gone, I felt like I was starting to see myself again, finally. A new journey was beginning.