The Gray Area of Aging

by Amelia Kanan

You know what happens when you announce to the world that you don’t care about timelines and futures? I’ll tell what happens. You find your first gray hair.

(Insert: Large exhale)

This morning, I was enjoying a nice little banter with a certain gentleman. We were somewhere in between a discussion on Scandinavian design and a lesson for him on how to fix his horribly strong coffee that he had brewed when he looked at me with a look of concern. He started to smile while his eyes were still fixated. It made me smile, thinking he, naturally, had just realized something beautiful about me.

“Is that a gray hair?”  He asked.

(Insert: tires screeching) My intestines froze. My heart rate ran a lap, actually two.

“No.” I said, with a straight face, serious eyebrows and all and my tone was stripped free from any trace of cutesy in my response. He was being an asshole because, of course, this was something he was making up. I’ve had no signs of gray.

“No, I really think it is…” He came closer and fingered through some of my abundant strands of dark, healthy, young and vibrant hair. “It’s really long.” He was still smiling. He’s lying.

“It’s blonde.” I said, when I felt the tug and convinced that was the truth. My hair, which I have frequently surveyed in all sorts of lights, is a rainbow of reds, golds and obvious dark browns so for a split second I felt this could be it. It’s blonde.

He laughed and said “Well, if it’s blonde, then you got out of Los Angeles, just in time!” He brought the strand in front of my face. Forcing my eyes to respect the truth. Oh, my god. He wasn’t lying. But, why had he smiled? Did he think this was a good thing? Is it funny to him that he just discovered the first sign of me becoming dried up?

Not funny because it’s not blonde. It’s gray and it’s thick. Kind of kinky, too. I pulled it a bit harder and plucked it out of its little follicle socket, without any struggle or pain. You know why? Because it’s dead. Dead things don’t try to survive and hold their grip. My hair is dying. How can I have gray hair without having kids? Damn myself for saying “I can’t wait to have gray hair and wrinkles. I’m going to be proud of my age.”

I didn’t know what to do with it so, after continuing on with my lesson on re-structuring an already made pot of coffee, I held my gray hair. twisting and looping it around my fingers and nose tip. Don’t worry, I realized that was weird as soon as I did it so I put it in the next best place. My purse pocket. Well, if anyone knows me you would know that my “purses” are more like Mary Poppin’s bags. They’re sizes can be comparable to a duffel one would travel Europe with so here I am, hours later, totally unable to find this strand of hair. I’m mad I can’t find it. I’m mad that I look like a stupid mime to the guy sitting across from me at this coffee shop because I keep dipping my hand into the purse pocket and pull my hand out with a closed fist and nothing in it. I’m mad because I really wanted to photograph it, for you my audience. I’m mad because I wanted it. To look at it again. Measure the length. Examine it so I know what to be looking for, from here on out. And mad because I need to take a picture of it and text it to my best friend who will be able to say “See, what it’s like? Eat your flipping’ words, Amelia!”.