Transition Feels Like Growing Out A Perm
I recently read the interview that Beyoncé did with her sister Solange in Interview Magazine. In the interview, Beyoncé asked Solange what inspired her cover art.
“I wanted to put these waves in my hair, and to really set the waves, you have to put these clips in. And when Neal, the hair stylist, put the clips in, I remember thinking, “Woah, this is the transition, in the same way that I’m speaking about on ‘Cranes.'” It was really important to capture that transition, to show the vulnerability and the imperfection of the transition—those clips signify just that, you know? Holding it down until you can get to the other side. I wanted to capture that.”
For some reason when Solange explained the transition stage it hit me like a ton of bricks—because that’s where I am. When you are, a black woman living in America nobody ever gives you a moment to unravel. You must be on guard and “strong” at all times. Black women don’t even give other black women the luxury of unraveling. We say things like, “You got this sis, you strong.” It’s not coming from a place of ignorance but a place of knowing.
But there is a transition that’s happening within me and it feels like growing out a perm. You know once it’s grown out your hair will be healthier but during the transition stage, the stage where half of your head is perm and the other half is in its natural state— it’s frustrating. The struggle is real, and you wonder if it will be worth it.
It’s looking at your permed hair fall out and crying. It’s waking up not knowing how you will style your hair because there are too many things happening to it at once. It’s feeling like you don’t have options. It’s admiring all the women who have tamed their mane. It’s wondering how long will it take before this process is complete and your hair is where you want it to be.
The transition stage is a hard place to dwell, it can be confused with depression but in my opinion, it’s not. This phase is raw, it’s honest, it’s hurt, it’s love, it’s joy, it’s everything, and nothing at all. It’s transition. It’s staying in the house more and going out less. It’s writing more and talking less. It’s sitting up at all hours of the night thinking about life.
It’s learning. Pushing. Thinking. Working. More thinking. Sitting still. It’s going everywhere and nowhere at the same time. It’s admiring my physical features and smashing mirrors because of them. It’s tears falling without warning. It’s gray hairs forming on my head without giving notice. It’s quiet celebrations about aging and loud prayers to slow time. It’s walking into womanhood—black womanhood feeling unprepared but ready. It’s sinking into deep thought and having knee-jerk reactions. It’s undocumented love, loss, and pain. It’s grueling. It’s breaking bones to reset them. It’s transition.
It’s not pretty.
I’m trying to give myself space to unravel and find peace with the process. My knowing spirit helps me gauge my own mood swings and I constantly remind myself to be—gentle.
When I see my reflection in the mirror I sympathize with the young black woman staring back. I know she’s anxious and not content. Her smile is covering fear and although she moves with grace it’s obvious to a trained eye that she is running a mile a minute, and has traveled through states before her morning coffee. I dare not tell her to be strong or to stop crying. I leave her be. She’s in transition.
I know it’s all necessary. The breaking of the bones, the pain, the self-discovery, the mourning, and the healing. I must go through this process in order to fully walk into the next stage of my life.
It’s still unattractive, though. It feels like walking around needing a fill for your nails. You hide your hands so people won’t see them. You cringe every time you look down. You know eventually they will be done but, the process of it all is—restive.
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