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White Hair, Kind of Care

Ottawa, March 2018

One is dark brown, one is dark brown at the root and gets lighter and lighter all the way down to the end, and one is white.

Shit. This one is white too. Wait… how many…

Must be the light.

Check in the other bathroom.

These damn lightbulbs!

Step outside with a mirror, of course bumping into the neighbour I never see when I’m doing something normal like opening the front door or getting the mail.

I could blame it on the snowflakes blowing in the wind but I’m not that delusional—last time I checked they don’t dye hair white.

I definitely have strands of white hair.

Not the single random white hair you can pull out and forget about, but hair growing white instead of the usual brown I’ve been seeing for 36 years.


Everyone’s body change throughout life, and we change it too.

I graduated from childhood without tonsils and with tomboy scars on my knees (slow down on your bike, kids!), legs (don’t run with a bamboo stick, kids!) and hands (knives do cut, kids!). I ended my teenage years with five piercings in each ear, a nose stud, a belly-button ring and a broken hymen. I came out of nine months of pregnancy physically unscathed but depressed and completely confused (I swear “postpartum depression” it’s not just a buzzword!).

That’s when I noticed the first white hair, actually—a few weeks after Mark was born. I chalked it up to the bundle of joy crying upstairs and countless sleepless nights. After all, new moms are supposed to experience a myriad of biological changes, pains and symptoms during pregnancy and shortly after—“hormones” everybody whispers to explain the unexplainable. “It gets better!”

It did get better. My hair eventually kept on growing its usual colour, a strange mix of dark brown that turns light brown under the sun—no, it’s not highlights, I swear, it’s my natural colour.

The key word is “colour.” My goddamn hair didn’t use to grow white.

I mean, I’m totally okay with getting older, as long as everything stays the same, otherwise it’s not fun anymore.

“Oh, you’re lucky!” my mom commented. “I had strands of white hair when I was much younger than you. I remember your brother was upset once because one of his friends asked if I was his grandma.”

“But you also had three kids!” I moaned.

“Your childless sister complains about white hair too and she is six years younger than you,” my mom pointed out. “Don’t pull them out. Embrace them!”

“But you dye your hair!”

I can’t pinpoint how having white hairs make me feel, but it bugs me more than I care to admit.

I don’t think it’s vanity—I don’t obsess over my looks, plus I’m not trying to be the twenty-year-old babe I never was in the first place.

Maybe it’s the unknown. I’m not particularly attractive but I know what I look like and I can’t help wondering if one day I’m going to glance at my reflection in the mirror and not recognize myself. What will I look like with grey or white hair? I can’t picture it.

It’s also a control issue. I have zero interest in managing or influencing other people, however, I entertain the illusion I have control over myself and my life. Unfortunately, I can make myself work harder to reach goals and exercise to feel stronger, but standing in front of the mirror and chanting “grow BROWN, grow BROWN!” probably won’t make white hair hidden suddenly change their mind and come out the usual colour.

I thought I was okay with my “mere mortal” status but more than a birthday, white hair is a tangible reminder that life is short and—don’t thank me for that uplifting Monday thought—we all have an expiry date.

Shit. I’m running out of time, as usual. There’s so much I want to do, see, experience! I can postpone some of it to next month or next year, but probably not to the next life—I don’t believe in reincarnation.

“Just dye your hair and shut up, already!” Huh huh. I spent my teenage years trying to be someone else, experimenting with red hair and henna, now I just want to be me. I don’t even wear makeup because I find it deceptive. I don’t want to hide my white hair—I just need a bit of time to embrace it, much like I try embrace every other physical flaw I can’t fix.

Damn. Still snowing.

Problem solved for the day—I have a wear a hat, anyway.

Ottawa, March 2018
Ottawa, March 2018

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