Signs of Faery In Your Life—Hair

Glitter happens. Sparkle happens. Not necessarily in the obvious, usual ways. Creativity happens. Silliness and joy happen. Sometimes it’s subtle; sometimes blatant. It’s never forced—it just happens. Green and growing happen. We get ideas and we just do them and they make us feel better even when they are “silly” or “weird”.

“Silly” and “weird” are almost a trademark of faery.

A few months ago, I had surgery. After stuff like that, I always have problems with my hair. It starts dying—going dull, straw-like, breaking off. It takes a few months to be noticeable but then it becomes horrible. In desperation I began taking vitamins “for skin, hair, and nails” knowing that they wouldn’t help for months, if at all. What usually happens next is that I start cutting it off, an inch or so at a time. Like pruning an unruly bush.

Usually four or five inches comes off, but this was seriously bad. Every time I looked in a mirror, I wanted to cut more off. And I did. It got down to two or three inches long—some of it curly and rather a lot of bits sticking straight up or out. It was horrible. It reminded me of the way my granddaughter’s hair looked when she cut it herself when she was four. Urchin-like. Only not cute. Awful.

Yet people started saying it looked cute. Pixie-like. I knew they were trying to comfort me, and it wasn’t working. It just looked like a small child had run amok with the scissors—not the way an elder wants to look if she is moderately sane. I considered cutting it all off about a half an inch long. Truly, I felt completely discouraged and wanted to take up wearing big scarves or possibly even wigs. I had nightmare visions of those dreadful cheap wigs that look like plastic—short and blonde and tightly curled, every hair in place. Arrrrgh!

The local fae were muttering and laughing. They were giggling at me. The worst of it was that I was supposed to appear at a FaerieCon in Seattle in a few days. I had pretty dresses. I wanted to look nice. Old, maybe, but nice. I knew I’d never attain the look of a dignified elder anyway, not even with nice hair, but this was just ludicrous. I thought about ways to hide it. I considered again the idea of cutting it right down to the scalp. Or covering it with a fancy headdress, which I didn’t have time to find or make.

The afternoon before the first day of the convocation arrived, and I had to do something. I was going to be standing in front of people, teaching. I was going to be in a panel discussion, for Someone’s sake! (There doesn’t seem to be a patron saint of hair.) One of the things I notice about folk who are “into” faery is that they usually have a lot of hair or nearly none. I didn’t fit either category—I had absurd hair.

It wouldn’t be better if I colored it. Not even in rainbows. It was much too random and disorderly. But… what if I did? It might make it seem as if I meant it to be that way, instead of looking as if I’d been caught by some hair-devouring monster. Is intentional ridiculousness better or worse than accidental? Brazen it out, the fae said. A friend took me to the local beauty supply. We got violet, turquoise, and hot pink temporary hair coloring. (I wanted it subtle and didn’t want the hot pink, but they hadn’t a soft rose and I hoped that using it briefly would result in a gentle rose—it didn’t. It went a bright and hot pink instantly.)

We applied the colors to seven strands each—seven is allegedly a faery number. We waited a little bit, but not too long. (Subtle, remember?) Then I rinsed it out. Apart from the hot pink, which was glaringly apparent, I couldn’t see any colors in my wet hair. Well, that was at least mostly subtle. My friend assured me that it looked good. Colorful. Not awful. Cute. I know she is kind, but this seemed to be carrying things to an extreme of kindness. I gave up and finished packing.

When I arrived at the convocation, people politely didn’t mention it—mostly. Amid the glorious costumes and makeup of others, this was really very mild. My son asked me about it. I shrugged and said, “Sometimes things just happen.” My granddaughter liked it and patted it. A few said it looked like pixie hair and cute. I couldn’t imagine looking “cute” at my age. Never mind. I sat down at my table, which put me under one of those bright lights recessed into the ceiling. Someone did a double-take and said, “Your hair is iridescent! I immediately felt much better.

And the fae giggled all week-end long. I’m going to color it again when it washes out, and dress up in my blue velvet and white lace, and have my picture taken in the woods. It would make them very happy. Me, too.

© 2013 by Jessica Macbeth. All rights reserved.