Got the pink hair blues

I dyed my hair pink.

This was not the impulsive act of a 16 year-old girl. It was the impulsive act of a 51 year-old woman.

Dyeing my hair is not a new thing. My hair has been brown, blond, red, and as close as I could get to black without looking like Marilyn Manson. It’s been short, long, very short, even shorter, spiky, sleek, and permed a la the 1980’s. My philosophy has always been “it’s only hair,” and my hair grows fast. So when I saw the picture of the messy pink crop in the magazine I thought, “why not?”

I don’t ascribe to the idea that women “of a certain age”  have to conform to some acceptable form of dress. What does that mean, anyway? Aren’t we all a certain age no matter how old we are? I only question when people dress not as themselves, but who they wish they were but fear they are not.

Therein lay my problem. Did I want pink hair or did I want to be the kind of person who would dye her hair pink? While I was in the salon, I felt all badass and cool. Then I left the salon and went into Talbot’s.

I generally don’t shop at Talbot’s, but it was a 70% off sale. 70%–that’s a good deal, but I was not prepared for the looks. It wasn’t so much a look as it was a “I’m looking at your face and not at your hair” look, like when you’re talking to a guy with bad toupee. I left the mall with major wtf was I thinking regret.

My husband  knew I was considering the pink, but didn’t know I was actually doing it. He was complementary and said all of the right things, but he knew that I was a woman on the edge of a breakdown and behaved accordingly. My husband is awesome. He poured me a large glass of wine, gave me a reassuring hug and told me to own it. We decided that I’d imagine I was an Anime character–some sort of pixie librarian with a magical Almanac.

The next morning when I went to the grocery store, the pixie magic had worn off. I wore a hat. I never wear a hat. I just wasn’t ready to be conspicuous. I wasn’t sure I’d ever be ready. I’d have to stay in my house for the next six weeks. Thank god for Amazon prime.

I’m a stereotypical self-torturing artist. I am individualistic and self-expressive (hello, I have a blog) but as an introvert, really don’t want to draw attention to myself. I was afraid of what people assumed about my motives for having pink hair. I questioned my own motives for having pink hair. Was I trying to recapture my youth? Was I making a statement about aging, or fashion, or art? If I went to my stylist the next day and went back to brown hair, what would that say about me? Was I a coward, or just a woman who made a mistake in picking a hair color that clashed with everything but black and gray?

I had a good cry over it. My husband reminded me that I am not my hair, nor does my hair define me. It’s hair. I decided I would keep the pink hair and learn something from the experience. It was at least good for a blog post.

After all of that soul-searching for the reason why I did it?

Because I could. I thought it would be fun. If I was looking for some great revelation about self-perception, I didn’t find it, and If anyone else thinks I have a greater agenda, too bad. As for my judging people because I think they’re trying to be something they aren’t, shame on me. I don’t know you any better than I know myself.

I’m not keeping the pink hair forever, but I’m keeping it for now. For one, I’m afraid that if I bleach the pink my hair will fall out. Two, it fades quickly. My white towels are a sweet blush color at the moment. Three, I’m learning a lot about myself walking the universe with pink hair. I’m learning how to sit with my discomfort. I get a lot of positive reinforcement, which is nice, but the real challenge is owning my uniqueness and not being afraid of it, whether it’s my hair, or my politics, or my writing.

I suspect when my hair is brown again, I’ll miss the pink, but if I embrace this offbeat color while I have it, maybe some part of me will always bear a little streak of highlighter. And that’s nothing to feel blue over.

In my next life, please don’t make me come back as a stinkbug

I attended an outdoor yoga gathering over the weekend to kick off Virginia yoga week. (Yes, there is such a thing. Namaste, y’all.)  The downtown pavilion was a patchwork of mats. I saw every color in the rainbow–red, blue, purple, green, and that was only the tattoo of the dude sitting next to me. He had an eye (among other things) tattoed on his bicep, and it watched over me like a horror-house portrait, following me as I moved from pose to pose.

The crowd covered the gamut of yogista types, from om-mani-padme-hum to Ath-leta-Lu-lu-lemon. The temps topped ninety, and the crowd had prepped for seven hours of unintentionally hot yoga by mixing a little iced chai with their chi. Reusable cups, natch. The air was full of love and peace and organic SPF 50 sunscreen.

Once we began, I was grateful for the warmth as we moved through various asanas. I stretched farther and bent deeper. I felt rooted to the earth, yet supple and willowy, which at my age doesn’t happen too often.

Looking around me, I actually teared up a little. There’s something powerful about seeing so many humans moving in unison. We can coexist in harmony, as long as money isn’t involved and we don’t think about it too much.

So there I was, blissed out, feeling all connected and spiritual, and I looked down to see a stink bug on my mat.

For me, stink bugs rank somewhere between incorrect apostrophe use and people who stop at the top of escalators. If I’d been home, I would have grabbed some toilet paper and flushed the intruder (assuming the cats hadn’t gotten to it first) and been done with it. But I wasn’t home. I was at a gathering of folks whose primary principle is ahimsa. Do no harm.

“Time to move on, buddy.” I nudged the beast with my finger. He didn’t even wave an antennae at me.

“Look you,” I cooed in a voice reserved for toddlers and puppies. “I’m letting you off easy. I need this space, so please move.” The stink bug dug its little stink bug feet into my mat. It wasn’t going anywhere.

“Fine. Have it your way.” I gave him a gentle flick with my finger. Really gentle. Just enough to move him to the side. Or so I thought.

The stink bug caught major air and flew about five feet directly under the behind of the woman in front of me as she lowered into child’s pose, trapping the stink bug under her yoga-pant covered asana.  I checked the guy next to me. The tattoo eye had seen it all.

Surely Karma would take it easy on me. I didn’t mean for the stink bug to meet his untimely end under someone’s booty. I was a victim of unintended consequences.

About this time the woman stood up to pack up her things, I looked for the critter in both possible locations while trying to avoid looking creepy. Nothing. Maybe I hadn’t killed the stink bug. Perhaps I just enabled it to experience the joy of effortless high-speed flight.

Just as I contemplated the cosmos forgiving me for my transgressions, the woman saw the stink bug clinging to the side of her yoga pants. She squealed, flicked the bug to the ground and crushed it under her sandal.

She looked at me and turned bright red.

I put up a reassuring hand. “I probably would have done the same thing.”

We both looked at the tattooed watchman, who shrugged us off. “Man, I hate those fuckers,”

The woman picked up her mat and walked away. I looked at the stink bug, on its back, legs up, reminding me that I was the beginning of the chain of events that led to his demise.

And then it flipped over and flew away. Only a stink bug could be annoying enough to be reincarnated as a stink bug.

“I guess her conscience is clear.” All I could do is laugh.

As we both moved back into the flow of the class, swear I saw his tattoo wink.