I remember, it was the summer I turned 10. Mama and Auntie Linda were driving us children across the country to visit family in Tennessee. We were nearing our destination and set to see someone we knew that day. I don't know where we started from, but by lunchtime we were posing under the Gateway Arch and fixin to eat at a fast food restaurant on the Mississippi River. And I remember all this because I was mortified.
Why at 10 was I experiencing such shame?
Because Mama wanted my hair to look nice that day.
My hair is super fine. It can be very wispy and stringy. And probably was even more so when I was an antsy 10-year-old, entertaining myself in the backseat of a minivan with my siblings and cousins. Mama used to put my hair in sponge curlers overnight so I'd have Shirley Temple curls for about 5 minutes the following day.
Only that day. The day we ate lunch in a boat on the Mississippi River. The day I stood beneath the Arch for pictures. That day. Mama refused to let me take the curlers out. I had to wear my hair in curlers like an 80-year-old woman all day long, so that when we saw family or friends or whoever it was we were seeing that day, my hair would be curled for about 5 minutes.
Somewhere there is photographic evidence of that day. I am pretty sure my shame and complete embarrassment is evident in every single photo. It mattered not that I didn't know a soul in St. Louis, Missouri. I could not believe Mama would embarrass me in such a way. (I have since learned not to be surprised by the ways Mama can and will embarrass me.)
Well folks, I'm here to tell you that I've come a long way.
This weekend I drove over the mountain to a cousin's wedding. I left before noon for the late afternoon ceremony. My hair hasn't changed much since I was 10. It is still super fine and can be wispy and stringy. So I did the only thing I knew to do to make sure my hair looked good for at least 5 minutes when I arrived.
Y'all, I wore curlers all day long. I even stopped for gas. And in Oregon that means, I can't pump my own gas. So a young man came to my window and took my card and gave me my receipt and I continued on my merry way without ducking my head in shame. After that I sat in stand-still traffic for an hour trying to get to the other side of all the famous Sister's Quilt Show and continue on my journey. Those curlers didn't come out of my hair until my car was parked in the lot at the historical site where the ceremony took place.
I'm not an 80-year-old woman, but a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do when it comes to making sure her hair looks good for at least 5 minutes a day.