At a young age, I have had a weird concern about tangled hair. I have so much of it, and no matter what, within five minutes of leaving my house it would be a gold, nested mess. I absolutely hated it. All of the other girls had smooth, shiny hair draping over their shoulders while mine yanked at my scalp anytime I ran my fingers through it.
But at 15, I was sitting next to my dad in a convertible ’67 Alpha Romeo Spider. We had just headed for the California coast. The rain had been pelting the windshield. I stared through my window at the sky falling as if I were being filmed for the closing credits of a tragic love story. Before I knew it, I had dozed off and had woken up to the sun trying to reach over the surrounding green hills. I wasn’t even sure where we were, but my dad looked over at me and shot me a “thumbs up” anyway.
He starts to slow and takes the next exit down through the hills and comes to a complete stop along the shoulder. He got out and began unclipping the soft top and folded it down behind me. The fresh air filled my body, and I could feel the ocean was close. I reached for a band to roll my hair up with, but found nothing. I knew that this was going to be the end for my civilized head of hair.
As he merged back onto the highway, I struggled to successfully hold my hair in a twist. My dad said something inaudible through the roar of wind and traffic and swung his head through the rush hopefully in an ironic way since he was basically bald.
Pieces of my hair continued to escape, longing to be free. Our car raced up a hill, and once we had reached the top the Pacific Ocean came to view and immediately blinded me. I instinctively closed my eyes. My dad took a few exits, and we were soon driving right next to the ocean. The sun reflected off of the Pacific as it began to sink closer into it. It was an unruly pool of gold, just like my own head. The wind and the ocean were begging me to let go. My hand fell from my blonde mane. My eyes opened.
My hair was in a hurricane above me. I didn’t care. My devotion to perfect hair had probably blown away about 15 miles back. I was doing what nobody with perfect hair could do: ride shotgun up California’s Highway 1 with salty air and summer sunshine rippling through me.
I found myself breathing so deeply. My soul was filled with California freedom, and I discovered that these kinds of trips welcomed unmanageable hair. They accepted messy lives. They embraced the wild side.