That Inner Streak
By: Kendi Wolever
I recently went to my hometown of Enid, Oklahoma for a very specific reason: to have my hair done by my go-to hair lady. I’ve been away from Enid for exactly two months now, and so much has happened in this short amount of time. I’ve grown and changed and lost weight and minimized my wardrobe and honestly just tried to do all of the things that make a girl in her 20s look like she has her stuff together. I even tried out a new hair salon in Tulsa, thinking it was absurd to drive two hours back home just for a coat of color. However I definitely learned my lesson because $80 later, I have purple hair.
Now for some background information: my hair has always been a huge part of my life and my identity. You may not know this about me, but all of my life I have gone to the same salon because all of my life, my dad has been my hairdresser. He has owned his business since before I was born, and for almost 20 years I never strayed from having him- or one of his stylists- do my hair. I remember that first time, and it was one of the most emotional experiences of my life. I was 19 years old, had just moved to Washington, and I went somewhere new for a desperately needed $10 bang trim. It was barely a ten minute procedure but afterwards, I ugly cried and wailed uncontrollably in my car on the phone with my mom for at least an hour. It’s a comical scene in hindsight but was traumatizing in the moment. Here and there since then I have had one or two people touch my mane and it hasn’t been so dramatic. The work wasn’t excellent, but it did the job I needed it to do at the time in my life. However, about five years ago, I let my regular hometown hairstylist Savannah start a project on my head that I had no idea would last as long as it did. My infamous blonde streak. It started as just a barely visible patch that really only I could see. But year after year it became bolder and bolder, transforming into a part of my identity and this token of pride I carried, because hardly anyone I knew had this look I was owning. I fed off of the compliments I received and the admiration I was shown for being so “different.”
Back to the present. I recently entered a new city, with new people and a new job and new challenges. This also meant beginning to work in an area where people of all sorts of “high class” walk around wearing suits and carrying briefcases- and they all have perfectly kempt hair. While I had never considered myself to be a person who allowed “comfort zones” to exist, I was suddenly out of mine. I started to question myself and my idea of what it looks like to be a professional. Instead of carrying myself like the strong, confident business woman I am, I began to see myself as somehow less than the women who strut in every morning carrying their coach bags and leaving with the skinny vanilla latte that I made for them. I found myself thinking that I had to step up my professional game in order to get on their level. So I made an appointment with my amazing hair lady to not only fix my awful purple hair, but to finally bite the bullet and nix my beloved blonde streak for the sake of professionalism and a new me. I can’t emphasize enough how monumental this moment in my life would be. It would be the day in history that a slab of color is painted in heavy strokes over my identity.
I battled with and prepared myself emotionally for a week before my scheduled appointment. I told myself that everything was going to be ok - that my new look would fit me just fine. That I could still have some remnant of pizazz left after it was all done. That people’s eyes wouldn’t glaze over because my hair no longer made up for my incredibly bland personality. I knew I would cry - nay - sob over this metamorphosis. But I put on my big girl pants anyway, drove two hours (listening to John Mayer sing about goodbyes the entire way), and took myself to the hair appointment where, in theatrical strokes of her hand, Savannah painted over our masterpiece. After shampooing, blow drying and curling, Savannah spun me around in my chair to face the mirror, and I took a good look at myself. And the craziest thing happened. Well, didn’t happen. I didn’t cry. I didn’t cry once. Nor did my heart feel any sort of painful way. Against all odds, I was ok. I had made it. And that was simply it. I saw myself, and I loved her. My blonde streak was gone but I was still there. And I looked incredible. I surprised myself- and am still surprising myself- because I don’t miss it. I look in the mirror and I like what I see: a professional, strong, confident, independent business woman with amazing hair. I can change everything about my appearance. I can better myself physically, become a healthier me, take care of my body and my home and my possessions.
But deep down inside, there’s still this invisible blonde streak in me. It’s the one that will hop in her car and take a sixteen-day road trip all over the west side of the United States with only a few weeks’ notice. It’s the one that can talk to any stranger and always make a friend. It’s the one that will try anything once, even if that means eating disgusting sea urchin. My biggest regret since moving to Tulsa is turning down those free tickets to see Leon Bridges because I had to get up early the next morning. I’ve still got that streak in me, and it’s the streak that always says yes emphatically, and unapologetically. I’m entering a phase of my life when I’m truly making decisions about who I am and who I want to be, and my hair decisions are definitely not excluded from that. I’m stepping up my game but I’m learning that that doesn’t mean I have to let go of the streak that makes me ‘me’. I just might be painting my streak with a new brush.