Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Day I Lost Nearly All of My Hair

I relish being different. My 6’1 large frame and pale skin will always make me stand out in the southern hemisphere. I’m willing to think progressively and stand up for beliefs even when I am standing alone. My general demeanour got me into some trouble in Ghana: If a Ghanaian colleague said something sexist I would point it out to them. I vocally but respectfully disagreed with the illegality of homosexuality and the way that Western volunteers treat African children. Though I was true to my values, I found it difficult to merge with the culture. In Puerto Rico I decided to do something that I have never done before- I decided to be quiet. I wanted to “sit idly by”. For me, this meant that I was going to merge as best I could with the new culture in which I was living.

My experiment began with analyzing everything I could about the behaviour of my colleagues. I eliminated the “s” sound from my Spanish so as to sound local and I began to carry a side rucksack like all of the Puerto Rican girls. I took every sip of the kool-aid that I could find. As I’ve mentioned before, Puerto Rican females naturally have very curly hair but use chemicals to relax their hair. I smeared this “potion” all over my hair and after 12 minutes of setting, had almost all of my hair fall out in the shower. I now have about ¼ of my normal head of hair and am nearly bald in the front sides of my head. I do not look Puerto Rican.

As elementary as it sounds, no matter how much we evolve there is still a part of us that will always be the same. I can’t change my hair texture any more than I can change my height. I really don’t want to wear skinny jeans in 115 degree heat like everyone else is doing. As much as I try to “be quiet” injustice still makes me squirm. I think that that is just who I am. I am a melting pot of the things I’ve learned in Springfield, Europe, Africa, and Puerto Rico. I am an amalgamation of stories and ideas and thoughts that I’ve found in the faces of the people I have loved.

And… I’m going to stay away from potions.

1 comment:

  1. I think it's beautiful. All of it! Your height, your frame and your wit :)