I’m a bathroom-sink-in-front-of-the-mirror toothbrusher, as a rule. I can make exceptions, like if I’m camping and there is neither, sink, mirror, or bathroom to be had. But as a rule, I prefer to froth up in front of the mirror.

I’ve been trying to be extra good to my teeth lately (hi Dr. Ranta!) so I was standing there last night, brushing away with my scary prescription toothpaste, doing my thing, spitting, when I noticed…I don’t know, I guess it was a gleam in my hair. Something shiny. Something that sort of caught the light and winked cheerily at me. Hmm. I wasn’t too panicked because I had a similar experience one time when I was a kid at the doctor’s: she was all peering perfunctorily into my ear when she sort of came up short and went, “Um, there’s something sparkling in there.” It turned out that I had an old earring in my ear canal, a very shiny earring rather reminiscent of a miniature disco ball because it was the eighties and I was nine and it was allowed at the time. She sqooshed a lot of water in my ear and it came out fine, which brings us back to me, last night, at the bathroom mirror, wondering what that shiny, sparkly, silvery thing in my hair was.

It was…I can barely type the words…a gray hair. It was several gray hairs. It was, I’m horrified to admit, multiple gray hairs, some on each side of my face, right toward the front. I stared at them for long minutes, whispering, “But I’m only twenty-nine.” There they were.

I yanked one out of my scalp for closer inspection. As hairs go, it was pretty nice. Long and sort of curly and very healthy looking. It wasn’t an iron-gray color but more of a silvery white, which I guess would be pretty enough on some soign饠older woman, perhaps wearing an elegant silk suit with perfectly polished nails and a lovely accent scarf she picked up in India when she was there ages ago…but on me? How? How is it that I have gray hair…no, make that gray HAIRS…when I am a model of clean living and, might I add, not even thirty yet?

Mom, are you reading this? Do you have any light to shed on this situation? Is this something you knew about but were just sort of keeping quiet in the hopes that I wouldn’t freak out when the time…you know, my twenty-ninth year…came?

I haven’t plucked any more out because I’m afraid the gray hairs will get mad once I start killing them and will reproduce with even more impunity. I’ve never colored my hair and am afraid to try. I am considering just not washing my hair any more in the hopes that the dirt will sort of cover up the silver sparkly bits. How heartbreaking is that…usually I love stuff that is silvery and sparkly and pretty, which, in all fairness, I have to admit these hairs are. They have much more body than my regular brown hair…but if any of the hairs are reading this right now, they shouldn’t interpret that as an invitation to stick around. They should accept the compliment graciously and just get off my head.

This is the very first tiny indication I think I’ve had that I’m not going to be twenty-one forever. It’s just going to keep going on from here, and in ten years if I’m still keeping this journal (there’s a terrifying thought!) I’ll be going on about how I’m almost forty and I just found a crow’s foot or something. I think I just really realized, for the first time ever in my life as I’m sitting here typing this, that if you live long enough, eventually you get old. You know all those pictures of your parents and grandparents when they were your age? Maybe they thought they would stay that way forever too, and they didn’t, they became the older and more wrinkly people that you know, and maybe you wouldn’t even recognize them if you saw them walking down the street when they were your age. Maybe sometimes when they look in the mirror now they wonder where their real face and body is, how they became what they are today. Probably they’re fine with it and are very happy and wouldn’t accept cold hard cash to be twenty-one again, but that’s got to be weird. And that’s going to happen to me, too, one day, every day. Every day I’ll get closer to being someone I don’t recognize and can’t imagine now, and maybe I’ll look back at pictures of me taken now and won’t be able to see a similarity anymore.

That’s all fine and good and meta, but in the meantime, what am I going to do about this gray hair situation? I mean, I have been a little stressed lately, it’s true, but this is ridiculous.

1 comment

  1. dude, I’m 29 and I have gray hair *and* a herniated disk. I have to say, I kind of like the gray, it’s kind of like a little private joke between me and my scalp. But the disk issue… that’s just not cool.