Woes of a Transitioning Ajala

I think ‘ajala’ means traveler, or nomad, or some other synonym, in Yoruba. That’s what my friend calls me all the time – “my friend the ajala!”

So my summer break is coming to an end. No more 24 hours of daylight, I stay trying (and failing) to reset my bed time, and then there’s just this general anxiety – I’m tired of education, but surely I can hang in for this last semester. I went to bed a couple of hours ago, but I haven’t been able to fall asleep, because of course my body is not yet trained to go to bed at 22:00. So let me just put up this post real quick.

Right, in case you couldn’t tell, I’m black. I’m also female. Everyone knows how natural African hair is supposed to look, yeah? Okay. Everyone also knows that many black females frequently ‘tame’ their hair by relaxing it, to make it a lot easier to manage, yeah? Moving on. My hair is relaxed, as neither I nor my mother have any affinity for stress. (My mother is mentioned here because she relaxed my hair when I was a kid.) In the past few months, I have come to the conclusion that I should probably grow out my natural hair, and cut off the relaxed ends. I’m not someone who thinks “oh you shouldn’t put any chemicals on/in your body, keep it natural/vegan”. Err…no. If it makes my life easier and doesn’t pose any real danger, I’m doing it. However, I have found that relaxing my hair every couple of months in Europe is way more expensive than I’d prefer. It costs on average, 10x what it costs in Nigeria. Also, if you have relaxed hair, you have to braid it (using extensions) or find some other way (weaves or wigs) to protect it in winter. Well, you don’t HAVE TO, but if you’re not looking to have hair that closely resembles an ancient mop by the time spring rolls around, then you better. Braiding in Europe costs about 100 Eur, in the places I’ve been. In Nigeria, it would cost (at most, during ‘rush season’) 15 Eur. I don’t know how much it costs to fix weaves, but I wouldn’t try to do that here, because all the ones I’ve seen on peoples heads look rather ratchet (I’m sorry). Wigs = no bueno for me, because…I don’t know, I don’t like them. There are nice ones, I know, but I’m just not a wig person mbok. So. I’m a lowly student, and I’m not employed. 100 Eur to make braids that would only last 4-8 weeks doesn’t sound like an intelligent investment, from where I’m standing.

That said, I don’t like being pressured to do anything, so I totally resent the fact that I have to hide my hair in winter, and spend a lot of money on doing the hiding. This is why I’m thinking of cutting off the relaxed ends. The way most people do this is, they make the decision, go to a salon, and snip off their hair. They call it ‘the big chop’. Me, I’m too chicken for that – my head is shaped like a coconut. So I’m doing something called ‘transitioning’. This means that instead of going to touch up my roots, I’m leaving them to keep growing and tormenting me. Yes, the new growth is tormenting. The longer it grows, the more difficult it is to manage the 2 textures on my head. There are many, many blogs/videos on styles that can blend the 2 textures, but being the lazy bugger that I am, ain’t nobody got time for that. I wash my hair, put it up in a bun, and go my merry way. Hopefully, by the time December rolls around, I would have 3-4″ of new growth on my head, and then I can confidently cut off the relaxed ends.

There’s this lipstick that was all the rave in Nigeria a few months ago (and probably still is), called Ruby Woo (by MAC). My friend told me to buy it after I cut my hair, or that she would buy it for me. She said it would make me look retro and things. Umm…nope. First, I don’t wear lipstick. Hello Labello. Second, when I hear ‘retro’, I imagine someone with an afro, wearing ankara print pants, an ankara button necklace, a tank top, plenty of colorful bangles, sandals, holding a bottle of water and looking at an art exhibition somewhere in the sweltering heat of Lagos. Yes, I’m aware that art galleries/exhibition rooms are always cool, to preserve the art on display, but this our fictional character still has to go back outside after looking at the pieces on display, no? This person looks ‘retro’ and ‘artsy’, and she’s probably a(n aspiring) writer or photographer, or something. She could also be a banker on vacation, it doesn’t matter. This is just for illustration purposes. Not to throw any shade on any of those careers, but that’s just not the look I’m going for. Such things do not work for me. What works instead, is the boyish look – and I know what I just described might actually be the boyish look for some people, but that’s not it for me. Mine doesn’t involve sandals or button/collar necklaces.

I don’t even remember where I was going with this. Yeah, I might be sporting a 4″ afro in the near future, but that’s enough of an alteration to my current look. I’m not doing anything that will make me look retro, unless I’m playing dress up, or something. I’m hungry. And tired. Still not sleepy.


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