Lying in the grass. Picking flowers. Observing insects. Holding hands and running in the park. Massaging each other's scalps with coconut oil. These are just a few things that has happened in my natural hair relationship.
My relationship is many things. It’s long distance, it’s orgasmic, it’s fun, it’s loving, it’s intellectual. But I never thought I'd use natural as one of the leading adjectives, until I realized how many awesome things have happened since we both went natural.
1) We use the same hair products.
Packing my weekend bag has become significantly easier because I can look forward to using Sheamoisture products, coconut oil and shea butter at his house. We haven't gotten to the level where we compare and contrast brands, but I have turned him out to that Trader Joe's Tea Tree Tingle line and the healing powers of coconut oil.
2) I twist his hair.
I'm all about finding new ways to achieve intimacy with my partner, and I relish dwelling in the subtle soundless moments that we share.
Have you ever given someone a scalp massage, or had your hair washed sensually as a level of foreplay? I haven’t done the last one yet (it’s on my list though!), but if you’ve been to a hair salon, you know how agonizingly amazing it can be to have someone else’s fingers running through your hair.
The moments when he sits on the floor between my legs, my long limbs draped over his shoulders and his head resting on my lap as I massage his scalp and twist his hair, are some of our most silent and sensual experiences.
3) We have the same pre-bedtime rituals
Many of us black women have these wicked pre-bedtime rituals we must endure before crawling under the sheets. Oh nah, a simple messy bun or hitting the pillow with our hair out won’t do. Our routine is more likely to involve setting our hair into some kind of complex contraption that is totally protective but completely unflattering.
These hair routines are often interrupted once we start dating someone new and enter the sleepover zone.
For the first couple of sleepovers with my boyfriend, I was apprehensive about pulling out the granny-satin-bonnet before bed and setting my hair in braids, twists or bantu knots, because it just “isn't sexy.” Why I worried about being sexy in my sleep, I don’t know.
I did it anyway though, because healthy hair IS sexy. But it was an annoyance trying to explain the whole “my delicate hair texture needs satin to protect my strands from falling victim to dryness and breakage" thing.
But once my partner started growing his hair out, I felt even more comfortable about my bedtime hair rituals. Not to mention, he has a pre-bedtime hair routine now too. It includes wearing this du-rag cap-thing-a-ma-bob.
4) He asks me for hair advice
There's a science to maintaining healthy natural hair. As the resident natural hair expert in our relationship, I'm able to school him on something I care about.
I relish the moments when he looks over at me, usually shirtless, all innocent and wide-eyed with a pair of inquiring eyebrows, holding some hair products or twirling a curl with his finger:
"Babe, should I moisturize my hair before bedtime or wait till the morning?"
"Boo, I'm planning on leaving my twists in for a couple of days. Is that okay?"
"Should I put oil in my hair or moisturizer, bookums?"
The answers are: You can moisturize your hair whenever you'd like, as long as you do it sometime today or even tomorrow, leaving your twists in is a great idea because its a protective style and your curls will be super defined once you unravel them, and both, because moisturizing conditions your hair but adding an essential oil afterward seals it in.
It never gets old and the questions are always more adorable than the last.
5) Overall, it’s a new level of closeness that we experience.
My partner is a reflection of who I am and who I want to be; and I'm reminded of that every time I look at his head.
Us being natural is more than a cosmetic idea that we embody. It is a physical representation of us having a similar mentality about our culture, our values, ourselves. It makes us feel more confident, aware and in tune with who we truly are as an African woman and man. We look and feel more united, and people can often sense our free-spirited, funky vibe from a block away.