Green Like Mermaids

People closest to me are sick of hearing this story by now, but because it was such a memorable experience for me, I’d like to recant it for you as well. So, without further ado, the story of how I dyed my hair sea witch green for finals week:

It’s been about nine years, the last time I saw a full head of my natural hair colour. I’ve been dying it since I was eleven, ever since my mom came home with her first round of blonde highlights that would become both habit and norm for her. Being that I wanted to be just like her, I asked her if I could get highlights of my own, and she took me to my first salon the next day; the first set was pretty subtle, but I felt like a million bucks and never looked back.

Anyway, since then, I’ve never had the same hair colour longer than three or four months. I get tired of it by then, for the most part, so keeping the same thing (even though the blonde got lighter each time I coloured my roots) from April to the beginning of December was a bit much by my standards. By the end of finals, I couldn’t stand to look at it anymore. I need a certain amount of change in my life to remain sane, and that was just too much of the same thing for me to handle.

So, after spending six uninterrupted hours (following the three from the night before, the four from that morning, and an hour or so for lunch) of studying for my World Cultures final, I decided it was time for a study break. So, in typical common-sense-free style, I biked to H-E-B, intending to pick up a box of the same colour I’d been using, since my boyfriend had convinced me by that point that the wise thing to do (since my entry photos for Spain are of me with blonde hair, not brunette) would be to keep my hair light and hold off on dying it red like I wanted to until I get to Spain. I pouted for a while, then agreed to wait. Once I reached that aisle, though, change was a-callin’ too strongly for me to ignore, so I decided to go down a few shades. No problem, it’ll still be blonde, they’ll recognise me…I just can’t do the same thing anymore, I can’t look at myself.

I pulled out the instructions to see how long I ought to leave the colour in. My gut told me that because my hair was so light, I should leave it in about half the time, otherwise it will be too dark; the instructions said, however, that for ultrablonde shades, leave the dye in 40 minutes, or twice as long as normal. That’s peculiar, I thought, but did it anyway. What I realised as soon as I finished rinsing out the colour was that if you’re colouring to ultrablonde, leave it in that long—otherwise, my gut was right.

Crap.

Green hair

I was laughing at myself by the time I finished drying my hair. The green was pretty subtle, about the same colour as my eyes when I’m not crying, but there was still an obvious, smoky green-grey cast to it that made my hair resemble Kelly Osbourne’s. When Luke came over that evening, I couldn’t take myself seriously; when I tried to fall asleep that night, my mind raced as I kicked myself over not having been able to concentrate on studying for World Cultures after my botched dye job.

Eventually, I did get to sleep. I woke up naturally at 5:30 a.m., which made it clear to me I’d a. fallen asleep at around 1:00 a.m., an hour and a half after going to sleep, and that I hadn’t been sleeping very deeply, hence not being able to get into my fourth REM cycle. I was wide awake when I woke up and waited for Walgreens to open. About ten minutes before that, I hopped on my bike—it was 19 degrees outside, but this had to be fixed before I went to work that day.

I ended up running out of time to fix the problem before my Cultures final, so around 7:45 a.m., I resigned myself to taking my test with green hair. Then, a thought occurred to me: in class, we’d watched a film that pokes a bit of fun at the American stereotype of average girls turning into supermodels via makeovers when in the process of winning the man they want. Instead of sexualizing herself, Alisa dyes her hair green. I hunted around my room for clothing that resembled hers and decided my velvet dress from Oxford was close enough. I wasn’t going to pity myself or hide my botched dye job, no sir—no, I was going to own this. When my boyfriend’s sister asked me for a picture, I had fun with it; by the time my test was over and it was time to use the colour puller, I was sad I couldn’t have fun with this for a little longer.

This might be a small anecdote, but perhaps the larger message is already clear to you. If it’s still vague, though, no worries—attitude goes a long way, a lesson I’ve learned over and over and over again this semester. I have no good reason to be sorry for myself; if you think I do because you know my history, I’m sorry, but you’re wrong.

This lesson applies to big things, too, though.

One thing many of you who are closest to me have probably noticed is that I’ve been getting more panic attacks lately; not only that, but they’ve been coming at greater frequency with less severe of triggers. For those of you who don’t know my history, this is probably a bit of a surprise, but yes, I get panic attacks and have since about May of 2011. I had and still have no idea why they’ve been getting worse, but one thing I did notice was that since October, my attitude about my trip to Spain has shifted pretty dramatically.

The thing was, in the beginning, I was pumped about Spain. A semester abroad? Yeah, I’ll go! Sign me up. I’d been planning this since my first semester at Baylor and the fact everything was coming together had me jacked, man. Even better was the fact I was going for more than a semester, what with my travel with Elizabeth and my possible trip along the Camino de Santiago adding bookends of adventure to either side of my actual study abroad. For someone with an adventure sense the size of Texas, this was perfect—until God promised me at the beginning of October that he would change my life that month and came through on his promise.

What happened after that point was that my priorities shifted. I wouldn’t trade where I am in life for anything in the world, but I was too far along in the process of setting up my study abroad to back out at that point. I’d already skipped advising and registration was bearing down like a peregrine hawk in a nosedive—even that early in the game, there was no plan B. Spain had to work. Beyond that, at every step, God was further validating the fact that’s where I was supposed to be next semester. Even my new relationship figured into the plan. In fact, everything was working out so perfectly that I forgot to be grateful.

I didn’t realise it until this morning, when it hit me like a ton of bricks that somewhere along the line, I’d stopped thinking of Spain as a privilege and started thinking of it as an obligation. I have to go, by this point—I’ve already been awarded scholarship money, skipped registration, cancelled my housing, and registered for classes abroad. There is no turning back, I know that, but what had happened to the excitement I’d felt such a short time ago? I have no idea. The ingratitude crept over my sky like city smog, obtrusive and black and totally toxic but sneaky and impossible to see except from a distance. I have to do something about this.

Needless to say, I have a lot to think about. I actually can’t go home until I get my visa worked out, because my passport, i.e. the only federal document in my possession that matches the name on my plane ticket, is currently sitting in the Spanish consulate in Houston awaiting its stamp. I can’t get my plane ticket to Europe until I know whether or not my visa was granted, and I can’t finalize my housing until I have my plane ticket and know for a fact I’ll be there. Everything is in place, just waiting to be realised—only now I’m sitting on what is apparently a heap of ingratitude, lacking in trust, somehow unable to have faith that my God will see me through this like he’s seen me through everything else. What is going on, here?

This is the first time I’ve written you guys about a problem I’m currently having as opposed to one I’ve already resolved. I know this is long, but if you’ve made it through and are hearing this request now, I would greatly appreciate your prayers. This is more desperate than I like to be and I’m way outside my comfort zone, but I know my God is greater and that He’s got this under control—I wish my head would listen, but even if it doesn’t, this is out of my control. In a strange way, I’m actually grateful for that, because controlling my life is too big a task for me to care to take on in the first place. At least I’m certain of that.

While the conclusion of my visa story is still at least somewhat up in the air, though, my green story does have a happy ending. After World Cultures, I made my way back home to try this colour puller I’d read about. It smelled like a combination between devilled eggs and lemonade and it burned a little, but twenty minutes and a really long shower later, I had my blonde hair back, and it was even a few shades darker than I’d started with. And, my roots were lighter, so I won’t have to dye it again for a while. The green tint is almost unnoticeable—just enough to remind me to laugh at myself when I think a situation has gone totally wrong.  Chances are, things aren’t as bad as they seem.

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One thought on “Green Like Mermaids

  1. Thanks for sharing all this. I love the honesty and the mix of humor and seriousness. I’ll definitely be praying for you about Spain and the next semester especially as Spain dilly-dallys with your passport.

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