Why does our culture refer to the back of our hair as the kitchen? Is it because kitchens are typically hot, and the congested curls toward the back of our head are usually a hot mess? Or because we pick at our naps like a dish of food, separating knots and curls as someone who does not like their nourishment to touch?
A vivid memory — my index finger twisting and turning at the left corner of my kitchen until it was no longer tightly hugged to my roots yet stretched and wrapped around my finger as a curling iron. I can recall sitting on my teammate’s couch, an undergrad in college, trying to organize the streaming thoughts in my mind. Why am I homeless, sneaking into dorms, and sleeping in my car? Why is my mother diagnosed with breast cancer but refusing the suggestion of my return home? Why do so many look up to me, though my sorrow quakes inside? Why is my only refuge an open mic stage on Wednesday nights? Questions, questions, rolling as my wrist rotates, finger wrestling with this back section of my hair, night after night. This segment began to have a texture contrary to my huge afro puff. Days, weeks, months, an entire semester went by. Sleeping in places, I felt thankful, less than, scared, and safe. Going through the days, not knowing how or why I should see the one that may follow. Contemplating my worthiness, and within the in-between breaths, being reminded of something I learned years ago when my father died, “Everything happens for a reason.”
Meanwhile, I never told my mother how I struggled because I did not want to add more stress when healing should be the only focus. I did not say to my coaches why I came to practice reeking alcohol mid-week. I did not ask my eldest brother for money to get meals when my funds ran out. I did not instantly stand up for myself when “men” made ultimatums for a roof over my head. I did not vent to my friends. I did not beg for help. I did write in my notebook. I did find peace behind a microphone. I did twist counterclockwise the left corner of my hair.
Rastafarians have many beliefs. One has to do with the journey of their hair. Many do not cut their hair for religious, spiritual, or personal reasons. Profound reasoning was not my intention when the left corner of my kitchen, an area of anxiety, became the place of my strength. When I continued to progress with time and decided not to become victim to my circumstances or limited by my decisions, a large afro reaching for heavens and a self-formed loc over my left shoulder was visible. A resemblance of moments tangled, knotted, and arriving on accident. . . or divine purpose.
The refund check from the school allowed me to move into my very first apartment. Often, I ran my finger along my one loc to remind myself that even though I could not see what was coming, my ability to keep going formed something able to withstand manmade divisions such as a comb. I would not be forced apart.
The apartment I rented had trees in the form of a canopy outside. With my cat Zion, I would meditate each morning and enter my peace. Feet brought me across blades of grass and Alabama soil that held stories known and unheard. Knees bowed down as roots grounding in the earth. Head clear, floating above rested shoulders; a place of calm where The Most High kissed me through the breeze. Every morning I entered my sanctuary, giving thanks for making it through life yet again – for growing, enduring, being, yet again.
There is a quote, “Every end is a new beginning.” I constantly discovered myself in a foreign place, as I created myself away from the comfort of home. I decided to loc the rest of my hair despite the protest of family and friends. I acted on the time for my entire head to reflect my journey within. Now, I have a physical reminder that no matter how much I feel I am at a place I cannot continue, my kitchen has long proved otherwise – in length and faith.