Friday, April 06, 2007

Gray morning. Anna, my three-year-old niece, is in surgery right now. The surgeon is delicately untwisting and re-attaching her ureters. Her parents are pacing around the waiting room, exhausted. My brother probably is not saying much.

I couldn't say much last night. Went with some other Wing-ers to the Lorraine Hansberry Theatre in the city to see Michelle Jordan perform in Bricktop, a musical about a black woman, a contemporary and friend of Josephine Baker, who had a jazz club in Paris before the war. Michelle played Alberta Hunter. She was incredible. Her voice is so pure, so full, so exuberant, so holy, that it fills every sound molecule with God and leaves no room for anything else.

I am grateful to be on the planet with her, much less to share friendship and a stage with her in Wing It! But I was still irritable and preoccupied, brooding and tired. Too much sugar. Not enough exercise. Too many days between being held in love's arms. Too many hours sitting at my desk. Too much anxiety and holding other people's angst.

Ellen asked me, "Is there a way you can release other people's pain? Visualize it going back to the earth or give it to a tree or something?" That's a good idea. I wrote two good poems yesterday, but it's not the same thing as doing my inner work. I can't wait to get the phone call from my bro or my sister-in-law saying things went fine with the surgery.

I know Anna is in the hands of the angels right now. I know everything is fine.

Yesterday I went and colored my hair again, which depressed me. I have become one of those women who deny their age by coloring their hair. I don't deny my age exactly. I like my age. I'll be the first person to say that my forties--especially my late forties-- have been the best years of my life so far. I'm ten times more productive and skillful than I was when I was younger. I understand people and life so much more clearly. Situations that used to baffle me are now obvious. I move on from relationships that don't work more quickly; I waste less time (even though I still waste too much time.) I laugh more and cry less and work more efficiently and love with more tenderness and compassion.

In 2007 alone, I've written three or four essays, a bunch of poems, a children's play, a children's book, taught a bunch of classes, and been loving and non-violent and clearly communicated with G, with C, even with the man I dated for a few weeks around the New Year, as well as with family and friends. Experience rocks!

Why the hair thing then? C likes my gray. He maintains (stoutly) that gray hair is sexy. My hairdresser, Jamie, a woman my age, disagrees. "People say gray hair is sexy but they lie. Gray hair is ugly. You don't want to be gray."

By the time I finally made the appointment it had been four months since my last touch-up. I had three inches of gray in some places. She had to use twice the amount of solution she usually does. I sat there, draped in plastic, with the toxic burning smell of the chemicals making my eyes sting. After she rinsed me out, my hair looked too brown, too perfect. I know the color will settle in. I know a few gray hairs will reassert themselves within a week or two. I know at some point I'll just let it go--when I'm fifty, I've said. In a year and a half.

Why am I waiting that long? Is it really so important to me to be hit on by young men in supermarket parking lots? Do I need people to think I am in my thirties forever? What color is my hair naturally now, anyway? How much gray do I have? I don't even know.

I'm going to go clean my room as a form of prayer.


Christopher Bates said...

Grey hair IS sexy and, no, that is NOT a lie. It is sexy because it is the opposite of a lie; it is authentic.

Anonymous said...

Just a note to say that I read your poem "But I Can't Talk Now" in The Sun, and thought it one of the best things I've ever read.

Barry Graham

Alison said...

Thank you Barry, and thank you too, Mr. Bates. Barry, I visited your web site/blog and enjoyed reading it. My stepmother is a Buddhist and is about to go sit a three-month retreat in preparation for her ordination as a priest/dharma teacher. Mr. Bates, I'll see you after class.