I came to San Francisco from Southern California and met my son and daughter-in-law’s hairdresser, Romy. Since that time I have applauded all the variations she created from July 1999 until December 2012. Only briefly, five years ago when baby Erin was born, did I go a day or two with a poppy-colored head of hair.
The joke in the hospital room when my son saw me was that if the baby went missing at the same time I left, they would send out an amber alert and I would be pulled over in a minute. Romy recognized that this was a dye job that hadn’t succeeded and scheduled a re-dye within the week. That was her only misstep in all the years she ruled my hair.
Romy’s control had been pretty absolute since we first met and she declared me drab. Mine was a history of deferring when it came to hair. Ours was a willing partnership. She did what she thought was beautiful and I agreed. While those days are over, I am ashamed to say I acted the coward one more time and didn’t tell Romy directly that I grew out the color and let another stylist cut it off. When she called me to say she missed me, I called her back and left a message. I said I had been afraid to disappoint her by going natural and that I feared she might have tried to talk me out of it. I regret not saying what I really felt.
Deciding to be less hidden beneath clever colors and artful streaking has taken years. It has only been within the last several that I accepted my aging with greater affection. I want to honor the crone I have become. This crone wants to spend less time and money on her hair and more on meditating. I want to trust my own instincts and follow my passions.
Jean Shinoda Bolen in Crones Don’t Whine says, “A crone is a juicy older woman with zest, passions, and soul.” If you aspire to be one, the secret is to be yourself while your mind, heart and body still function well enough and you appreciate being alive.
Bolen writes: “Crones don’t whine; they’re juicy and they trust their own instincts. Crones are fierce about what matters to them. They speak the truth with compassion. They listen to their bodies, reinvent themselves, and savor the good in their lives.”
She doesn’t say that crones don’t dye their hair or wear make-up or have facelifts if they think improving their appearance would make them happier or more themselves. However, I’m of the less-is-more frame of mind. The less I see myself facing the job of aging gracefully and graciously, the more I put off embracing this crone stage of my life.
I come by my vanity honestly. My hair has always been my “crowning glory.” From my earliest years when my mother took me to beauty shops to the time I first changed hair color in my mid-thirties, hair has helped to represent the “self” I want to see in the mirror and the “self” I want to present to the world.
For now, I see a woman in transition, willing to be more who she is. I like the mouse color I see in the mirror. I still rumple my hair and apply what Romy calls “product” to achieve a jaunty look. This new look reflects the energy and creativity that have brought me this far into cronedom.