After shearing off her dyed hair and growing it out silver, Joy Castro considers the thrill and terror that come with setting oneself free.
Whoa. I feel like I’ve been knocked off my feet. All of that released with one little act of rebellion against the culture that defines what a woman is and is not. Beautiful, just beautiful, and strong, like a butterfly with wings of leather.
What an extraordinary essay!! So much resonated with me, drew me in. This: "Over and over, I said thank you for something that hadn’t happened yet. In desperate confusion, I kept saying thank you." This is something I have felt myself, in moments of chaos and grief -- reaching for gratitude like a lifeline, faking it in the anguished hope of making it.
The older I get, the more I understand just how illusory that sense of control, of stability, has always been; the more comfortable I get with being unmoored, with un-grasping what I perceive as anchors; and I feel all of that in this piece. Thank you, Joy! (And I *love* the beautiful silver hair, in all lengths.)
Destruction and flames and for me, elephants who even though untethered, did not believe they could break free. Thank you for this brave voice.
This is so beautifully made. I kept returning to the pivot at "do you even want to be married," in order to examine how you kept tightening the focus on destruction, rebuilding, power. Not hair color, not really. (The art of all good essays, the situation, the story...) I want to teach this essay, Joy (and will credit @Oldster, too.) As always, thank you for your art.
This is a *wonderful* piece. I also always had dark hair that was thick and shiny and often complimented. When silver appeared at my temples in my late twenties I began coloring my hair, though my now-ex said I'd look beautiful gray, and my mom and two sisters never colored their hair. I colored it as an obligation I only recently have begun to understand. I grew it out without the buzz cut, and it often looked strange in its two-tone stages, but I now have platinum hair I love. During the grow-out, despite not being a joiner, I joined a FB group called the Gray Book. I was surprised to find mostly women in their 20s-50s agonizing over cruel comments made to them by family members, friends, and strangers about their gray. A common criticism was, "You are too young to have gray hair,", which was an obviously amusingly incorrect remark based on the evidence. That group changed the way I look at gray hair. It now seems to me to be another hair color, not a sign of age. The less we color our hair to fit someone else's idea of beauty, the more natural gray will be as just another color. It's been four months since my last haircut, my bangs have disappeared, but I feel happy about my hair, and I feel pretty, or as happy and pretty as the present complexities of my life allow. My hair color is now often forgotten and beside the point.
I gasped aloud when I read that you burned your journals. And as an act of rebellion against the task of hearth-keeping... well, for that I salute your bravery. Thank you.
Thank you Sari. What a glorious antidote for the self-indulgent crap that preceded it. “At least he’s being honest” is a very low bar for an Oldster “poet” whose learned nothing other than him self. This is honesty and pure poetry. It glows as it burns.
Wow - thank you. Finally women are learning to let go of being “nice” and living their adventure. Brava!
Gorgeous. I think this is my favorite passage, and something to aspire to: "I do not feel some newly settled sense of clear and comfortable identity, and I’m not sure I ever will again. Or that I want to....Rather, a wild feeling of openness, curiosity, and formlessness attends me all the time, a haunted exhilaration, an awareness of what I’m capable of destroying."
Beautiful! All of it--the hair, the words, the story, the authenticity! Thanks for sharing your experience.
I started crying just a paragraph in and kept crying until I got to the end. And now, I sit here, my head clear and messy all at the same time. It's always strange to me when someone else can describe my own feelings far better than I actually could -- it's akin to sitting and listening in one of the many AA meetings I go to and hearing someone share and only then being able to realize: oh, yes, THAT'S what I'm feeling. I am teetering on the very very edgiest, rimmiest, tippiest, littlest surface of 59 before I float-fall-fly into. 60. literally, so few weeks from now I can count them on one hand. For some years, I have had that deep feeling of desire to burn it all the fuck down. Exhausted by the million invisible things I have done for my family whom I love. But still. Millions. Of. Invisible. Little. Things. Thankless. Things. And so I'm looking now and trying to figure out: what the fuck is left of ME after all these little bites and tears rips have been taken from me? I feel so very much in that state I had had not word for until now: Neplanta. Yes, I am not this. I am not that. In between. In between this and that. In between the inhale and the exhale. In between one word and another. I think I'm going to need to grow comfortable being in that space for some time, between the sound of one leaf blowing in the wind and then another. That space isn't a void. Yeah...I'm going to need to get used to it.
I loved every word here. I have often thought about shaving my hennaed head to let the gray grow out. And burning old journals. Very inspiring--thank you.
Thank you for this exciting and exhilarating journey of a read, I love it
Your animal furred head, your kali-esque destructive impulse, your meditative gratitude, the fiery and visually stimulating images arising from your story and the comments it has generated - makes joining Substack recently such a new and rewarding adventure
'Do you even want to be married?' - what a powerful question with an even more truth revealing answer. Thank you for this very moving essay. I'll keep my own silver locks for a little longer!
So well written.
I loved this.