Tuesday, August 26, 2008

A Very Unimportant Announcement

Tonight, I discovered my first gray hair.

To be honest, I saw it a week ago but I pretended it was a blonde highlight.

I don't look in the mirror much. When I think of myself -- the person I feel like I really am -- I'm somewhere in my late twenties or maybe early thirties. Don't get me wrong; I wouldn't want to go back. It's been an interesting, rich life so far and I can't wait to see what happens next. I've made some terrible mistakes and I've done some things I'm proud of. I'm looking forward to the next decade.

But there is a strange sensation that comes with the realization that no matter who I am inside, this outer vessel that carries me around is on a predetermined schedule, moving toward a natural expiration that I have no control over and yet I feel unchanged. On some mornings I wake up and I notice the lines around my eyes and I wonder who the middle aged woman staring back at me could possibly be. I don't quite recognize the physical entity who is now undoubtedly an inch shorter than I claim to be and who is a little wider than she once was.

When I see very old people, I now understand that they are who they always were. When I see people half my age, I understand how they probably see me.

It doesn't make me sad.

It doesn't make me wistful.

It's just -- surprising.


Usman said...

I had grey hair pre-maturely. And I loved it. made me look older than my twenty something.
Not so much anymore, though i'm lucky it's still grey, not white.
And people get my age wrong all the time.

kristenspina said...

If it give you any comfort, every hair on my head is grey. Every. Single. One.

Two words for you: hair color.


Anonymous said...

My first grey hair was not able to be seen by the general public; the rest on my head soon followed.


Kim Adamache said...

Well said. I remember my 75 year old aunt conveying similar thoughts. And I couldn't agree more.

Love your choice of artwork for this piece.

Denis said...

Interesting. When I think of my niece Lisa I think of a wise-ass 4 year old with very smiling eyes. And sometimes I think of the teenager who I thought was street smart beyond her years. I'm sure its a blonde hair.

Karen Carter said...

That Uncle Denis is a sweetheart, isn't he?! It's DEFINITELY a blonde hair. And if the rest of your hair is also its natural color, I'm never speaking to you again. :)

Sustenance Scout said...


Scott Mattlin said...

Grey hair;..purple hair, no hair;..

You are so beautiful to me. -Scott

Travis Erwin said...

I have a head full of gray hair maybe more than I do black at this point but I echo your sentiments on aging as I feel the same exact way.

Shauna Roberts said...

When I had just a few gray hairs, I had my husband pull them out (he could see them better than I could).

Nowadays, that would leave a few empty patches, so I just tell myself they add distinction and make me look wise. Saves me the trouble of coloring it and leaves more time for writing.

CindyLV said...

Baby, that's not gray.
That's not blonde...
it's PLATINUM! (Now practice saying that with your best Zsa Zsa voice.)

And at $1548 dollars a troy ounce, you're gonna be rich! (Not nearly as rich as I am, though.)

I still remember the trauma of my first, um...differently colored hair, or color-challenged hair. I was 19, in Germany at a soccer match. My friend screamed, yanked it out and made quite a production out of it. I was devastated. Now I'm just happy to wake up and it's still there.

Judy Merrill Larsen said...

We are on the same wavelength this week, my friend. It's odd, isn't it, thinking of yourself one way and realizing the rest of the world might see you differently. Oh, well. I say, highlight the hair and live it up--as my grandmother (who lived to be 103) used to say--you're only as old as you feel. Today, I'm about 32.

Carleen Brice said...

I found 2 gray hairs this summer. Right after I got home from the hospital. I figure I earned them!

Lisa said...

Usman, Yes, I think a little premature graying for a young man probably adds some cachet. Actually, gray is a pretty minor matter for men in general, isn't it?

Kristen, I think hair color is what kept me from noticing the gray hairs sooner! Of course, since I'm about due back in the salon, what gave it away was that the "blonde" hair was blonde all the way to the root. Ahem, most of my other hair is a mousy brown at the root ;)

Susan, HAHAHAHA! Ahem -- yes, I think I know what you mean.

Kim, Isn't it strange how when we're young we assume "older" people think completely differently? I think it's pretty cool that people getting ready to hit their seventies now were very likely kind of wild when they were young. We're not the same grandmas who wore aprons and baked cookies!

Denis, I'll bet it really is blonde...okay, then when I think of my Uncle Denis, I think of the cool guy with at dark blue Mustang in the sixties :)

Karen, I don't think my hair even remembers what it's natural color is! It's been auburn, near-black, magenta and for the last couple of years, some camoflage blend of brown and blonde highlights. In the eighties, I had this really cool blue and pink mousse :)

Scott, xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxooxox

Travis, Weird to think teenagers (if they see us at all) think of us as old, isn't it?

Shauna, I considered pulling it out, but I hear it just encourages them!

Cindy, It's odd -- I'm 47 so I've been surprised I haven't started to get gray hairs sooner. I actually forgot gray hair happens. I think that was part of the surprise. But yeah, I'm pretty grateful to have hair at all!

Judy, I'd say I feel about 32 today too -- oh, except for first thing this morning when Scott planted his toy "fart machine" in my office and operating it with the remote from the other room. Then I felt about 9 and I think he felt about 8 :)

Lisa said...

Carleen, You DID earn them. That's the way I need to look at these things :)

Therese said...

Ditto to all of your sentiments.

Saw my first this past spring...

I'm going with cindy and "platinum." :)

Riss said...

I don't have any gray hairs yet so I can't say I understand but I think your post is interesting regardless. Aging is a strange idea. Anyway-I have had lots of random hair colors too hehe (c: It's cherry chocolate now or something silly like that but I like the color. I have good genes as far as hair I think-my mom is...well...older than you...and she doesn't have any or only a few. Hopefully I'll have the same luck. (c:

Seachanges said...

mmm I got plenty of those, only I refuse to admit them into vision, because I refuse to feel what I look like.... Hair dye is my solution too, and I assume that I am fully grey underneath, but who cares?

Lana Gramlich said...

I noticed my first gray years ago. I've decided to go with it. I think Charles' gray is uber-sexy!

Patti said...

i honestly can't tell you how many times i've looked in the mirror (as one who doesn't often) and thought "Shit! Who the hell is that?!"

it is startling, isn't it.

Melissa Marsh said...

I have grey hair and I'm in my early thirties. Of course, my dad had grey hair when he was in high school, so I'm not too surprised.

Sometimes, I will sit back and think, "I'm a mother? I'm a wife? I have a mortgage and drive a car? I have a full-time job? When did all that happen?"

I still feel 16 in a lot of ways.

G√ľnter said...

If it's any consolation to you, Beca is 22 and her dark-brown hair has thick, white stripes coming out of the part like lightning.

Lisa said...

Therese, It actually is platinum, or silver or some precious metal. I'm not sure there are gray hairs really, are there? Now if only it wasn't that weird wiry texture...it's not like a normal hair at all.

Riss, Physical aging is very weird, especially since it really doesn't necessarily correspond to the way you feel. I can remember noticing at some point when I was in my late twenties that the process has started to reverse itself. You spend your childhood, adolescence and young adulthood still growing and forming and then there is a day -- and nobody ever knows when it is -- when your physical body is done and it stops forming and starts deteriorating. Then if you're really neurotic, you start thinking about physicality and the biological imperative -- the fact that eventually nature cuts off your ability to even reproduce and, and -- can you tell I think too much?

Seachanges, That's why I don't look in the mirror much! There's too much dissonance between what I think I look like and what I actually look like :)

Lana, Apparently more people are starting to go with it -- although according to my hair stylist, the vast majority of people in the country -- male, female, young and old -- color their hair. It's amazing.

Scott had a few gray hairs when we met and they've been multiplying rapidly over the last year. I'm with you -- I think it's pretty hot.

Patti, How come nobody told us all this? My grandmother always seemed old to me. I wonder if it ever surprised her? It definitely is a shock though -- it's the same with hands -- one day I looked down and wondered when somebody stuck old lady hands on my wrists!

Melissa, Yep, yep, yep. I remember that phase too! I can remember buying my first house and thinking, "I can't be old enough to own a house!" And when I got out of the Air Force and started working in a job where I had to where heels and suits everyday, I honestly felt like I was putting on a business costume every day to go to work!

Gunter, That's so cool! There's a name for that phenomenon (I researched it once because I wanted one of my characters to have that white streak). That's like a localized lack of hair pigment or something like that. Actually, the hair is the least concerting of the age related physical insults since it's easy to cover it up. It's that shrinking that bugs me! ;)

Shauna Roberts said...

Oh, the "hand moment!" I remember mine clearly. A few years ago, my husband gave me a ring and I thought it looked really nice on my hand and I took a photo to send to my brother. When the photo downloaded onto my computer, I was shocked by the bulging arthritic knuckles, the twisting fingers, and the prominent blue veins. That's still not what I see when I look at my hands, but it's what I guess everyone else sees.

Julie Layne said...

Wow, looks like you struck a common nerve with this one, Lisa! 25 comments, all about a gray hair.

I have that shade of dirty blonde that makes it nearly impossible to determine just yet whether it's really graying or is still dirty blonde. It seems to depend entirely on my mood on any particular day.

And oh, those tiny little lines on the backs of my hands, how they hurt my feelings! I prefer to look at the palms.

I can remember stroking my grandmother's arms and thinking how incredibly soft they were. Now, when I feel my own arms, I wonder if she enjoyed that or if it made her paranoid. :)

pattinase (abbott) said...

Wait until you see a gray hair on your child's head. That's plain alarming.

Steve Malley said...

I found my first grays somewhere around the time of Napoleon (the first one, not those later pipsqueaks), but by the Crimean War they had largely cleared up.

Blood of the Innocent, works every time!

Vesper said...

I know exactly what you mean, Lisa. This is something that I often think of but lately I managed to focus only on that eternally youthful person I am inside. Time has no power in there.

The Electric Orchid Hunter said...

I noticed my first single grey hair in my teens. Since then, it's been joined by a couple of buddies, scattered through the forest. But I still have them all - and I'm grateful for that!

Barrie said...

Hmm...it is weird to feel younger on the inside than on the outside. Sort of twinkie-ish.

Patry Francis said...

I love Scott's comment. Grey hair or not, you are one lucky woman!

Bernita said...

When we are younger we do not/cannot calculate the relentlessness of inevitability.

sadie said...

Oh dear. I'm so many, many years past having discovered my first gray hair, I'd almost forgotten that it's a right of passage of sorts. What a fun post.
I found you through your very thoughtful comment on the most recent post by 52novels. thanks for your insights, ~sadie

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