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(Going) Gray

Going gray means, you’re growing old, but I don’t think gray is a synonym for old as much as transition. The question is to what? The word ‘going’ implies action. Your action or inaction, a is also question of. . . acceptance. For so many, when it comes to hair, or not, we do not ‘go gray’. We fade. We fade away.

I noticed gray hairs in my sister in law’s hair years ago, though she’s years younger, than I. My hair is like my father’s. He told me, “I thought I was still blond. Didn’t know it was white.”

I notice my own gray hairs now. For the last year when I visit my stylist, I warn, “We’ll have to think about those.”

“No,” she responds. “Not significant yet.”

My coworker walks into my office after her hair appointment. Deep dark roots are now disguised a reddish brown. “I have friends,” she says. “They’re all gray.” She laughs and shakes her head. “I can’t do it, because if I do it now.”

“It would be all at once,” I finish. And, I know, that’s the real question. Not, when is it too early to decide, but when is it too late? She leaves and I stare at beige walls. Too late for change.

In certain light, the streaks are wider. The hairs themselves are often short and thin. The strands are thicker because they are growing, in number. I see them mostly when I lift the hair back and smooth it towards my ears. I can spend seconds and I can spend minutes, separating, tweezing, picking, plucking at the curly light reflections of the color that once was.

I pull and the hairs break, so much easier, as if it’s not just the color that’s spent. Color is surface. Artificial. These hairs are also deficient, in what makes them what they’re supposed to be.

How long can I stay and stare at my reflection?

Gray. I stare deep into the mirror in the bathroom at work. Gray walls. I can’t stay there more than seconds, minutes. Gray carpet. I must return to my desk and the narrow window just over my shoulder. Gray skies. It’s not too late, yet. . .

How long before the person I know disappears? Thin. Breaking. It’s time to decide. Time to go away, before I fade.


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