Don’t get me wrong. I love my locs -- big time. They’ve seen me through my lowest of lows and highest of highs. I vividly remember thinking, “At least I don’t have to worry about what to do with my hair in the morning,” after a magazine I worked at folded, sending dozens of talented editors into unemployment; and then, three years later, I thought the same thing after I’d just given birth to my first kid. Yep, these locs have held it down for a good chunk of my adulthood. But, you know what they say -- all good things must come to an end.
The reason I wanted locs in the first place is pretty superficial, now that I think of it. I wanted long hair, dammit! I’d worn my hair naturally (and mostly in puffy pigtails) until I was around 10, and then one of my aunties, who also does hair and loves to indulge her nieces in anything they want, gave me a relaxer. My parents, who were unawares, freaked out when they saw it. I was in heaven. My hair moved and bounced and was easy to comb. And that was how I rocked my ‘do for the better part of 15 years.
This weird -- but not really, knowing what I now know about chemicals and hair (I’ll tell you all about it some other time) -- thing happened, though, where my hair would never grow past my shoulders. I was jealous of my best friend, who would undo her curly, black ponytail and let the tendrils dangle near her waist.
While I was in college, I realized that I needed to stop relaxing my hair if I was to give length a fighting chance. But it wasn’t until after I graduated, moved to New York and got hitched that I decided to take the plunge. I Big Chopped all of my relaxed hair (it wasn’t much) in 2005, started my locs a few months later, and have never looked back.
My younger sister is a natural, my sister-in-law is a natural, the lady who makes my soy lattes at the coffee shop is a natural -- and I envy them all. But it’s not their hair that I covet. It’s the options that they have that I want for myself. I often wonder WHAT IF I never started locs and I just let me natural hair grow out? Would it be big and poofy? Long and bouncy? Would I wear it up or rock it all Solange-like? Would I get it blown out for church and braided for vacation? Would I have bad hair days and good hair days (FYI: With locs you have neither. Womp.)? Would I use Carol’s Daughter or Asiam products? Juices and berries? Choices, choices.
So, what’s the plan? I Big Chopped once, and you’d think I’d be able to do it a second time in my sleep. But for some reason I’m terrified to go there again. Someone analyze my brain to help me understand the logic there. Instead, I’m going to try to comb the locs out…myself. I’ve watched a gazillion YouTube videos (this one is pretty awesome; she uses a fork to take out her locs!), I’ve stocked up on conditioner and combs of all sizes, and my Netflix is locked and loaded for the long nights I anticipate over the next few months.
You know how they say “It takes years to gain the weight, so don’t expect to lose it overnight”? That’s how I’m looking at this whole loc removal thing. It’s going to be a LONG, arduous process. I’m down with it, though. I expect a few tears (my locs…sniff-sniff) and a ton of dead curlies down the toilet bowl. But I also expect a newfound appreciation for my hair and the fresh, new form it's about to take. I'll be back to let you know how it goes -- let's just hope it doesn't take ten months!