|Me today with the Fro I craved back|
About forty years ago, I begged for an Afro. With all of her heart my mother tried to style my hair as such. She allowed my hair to hang loose. She wouldn't tease it, that might cause it to tangle. That would be a disaster, especially if she'd have to cut the tangles out. She used a hair "pick" comb and a light spritz of hair spray with the hopes my hair would cooperate and stay in place. Like any other normal day, she sent me off to school.
I remember walking toward Columbian Elementary School--Now George Washington Carver Institute for Science and Technology--in my beloved East Orange New Jersey. I prayed that my pseudo Jr. Angela Davis would sustain the quarter of a mile trek.
In it's most virgin state, my hair was baby fine and drooped to the bottom of my shoulders. My hair would just hang and it rarely held a style, much a less a hip one. I'm not complaining--today--I just wished something short of plastering my hair to a brick with a gallon of hair spray would protect my pseudo Pam Grier from the concrete steered wind.
As far as I remember, for a couple of months after that my Mom tried to get my hair to behave. I wanted to look like the other mini-divas in training at my school. I begged to mimic my local idols: Jackie, Levolia, Juliet Micky and others. Their Elaine Browns were tight. Some were short, others curly. Some were brunette, auburn others long but all were strong. The Afro represented power and my ability to capture some, hinged on the style, the Fro, my Afro. And it didn't help that my cousin Andre had one of the tightest, biggest Afros I'd seen on any of my peers, boys and girls.
The very next year I transferred out of Columbian and into a Catholic middle school that changed my travel by ten steps at best. The front door of my new school was a stone's throw from the back field of Columbian. Although close in proximity and consistent in ethnic make-up, primarily Black, my new school promoted new thoughts light years from my previous views on life. I traded in tailored dresses for a uniform and a desire for an Afro to swinging ponytails with colorful ribbons. In this arena an Afro was viewed as unkempt, nappy even and I happily fell in line.
Once in high school, I stole permission and chased the creamy crack for years. As a middle-aged adult, that trek returned my enslavement to a hot comb, bevel iron and a slightest drip of moisture. In my most recent years I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer, endured chemo and lost it all, my hair that is. But God would have HIS way for me to gain it all back along with some enlightening wisdom.
After chemo, my hair returned, baby-fine, curly then made a decisive turn to be soft, full, puffy, structured and sometimes nappy. I've embraced my natural pattern, a various array of textures all over my head. And the moment I accepted my hair as me, for me, God reminded me of what I asked for forty years ago. An Afro. Although I forgot, he never did. HE then revealed to me that HE never forgets us, the desires of our heart and that HE has our best interests at heart.
East Orange, New Jersey
HIS Timing is always best. And HE didn't forget my request, my desire even though I forgot I asked.
This is Toni Staton Harris Checkin' Up and Checkin' In to remind you that God Never forgets what your requests even when you forget.
REFLECTIONS AT 50 is Toni's new series that chronicles and highlights thoughts, discoveries and enlightenment leading up to, during and after turning age fifty.