It started to show itself in the way I kept my hair. Or didn’t. In high school and college I washed, dried, and straightened my hair daily. It was a thing of beauty. Well kept. Perfectly in place. With no sign of unruly wave, even under all those thick, thick layers. It was a good representation of how I saw myself. Of how I saw the world. I was a straight-laced rule follower. My perspective looked a lot like the scenery of The Giver. Things were orderly. Things were black and white. So black and white.
Post college, I went to work with my hair wet and in a bun. It only bothered my mom who I was living with at the time. She grew up during the age of suits, ties, and hairspray. I worked at a design firm as a designer behind a computer. Our project managers, who met with clients, dressed to the nines. My wet head passed go each morning.
I got married to a student psychologist, moved away from home, and learned about the color grey. Not from the book. It wasn’t out yet. Or from Chicago’s long winter skies, though they were in plenty. I learned about the color grey through the stories Kev brought home—of tiny people being born into the deafening cycle of poverty. I drove through their neighborhoods. I saw them on the train. I dried and straightened my hair a couple times a month during that phase. The wave started to settle in.
We moved away from Chicago to New Haven and lived on the street that held the “good” and the “bad” neighborhoods together. I started my own company, worked as a freelancer, and fed this space, though it’s mostly fed me. I was my own boss. Finally. Rule #1: quit attending to hair all together. I let the humid east coast air freely style my long mane. And it did. I lost track of my hair dryer and straightener. But mostly, I stole an extra 30 minutes of sleep each day.
Here we are in Minneapolis with our own tiny human. Standing in my bathroom on top of my newly thrifted oriental runner, I blame my wild unkempt hair on her. But if I’m being honest, it’s a better reflection of how I see the world now. There’s still plenty of black and white, but it no longer defines orderly things. It highlights the disorderly disparities. And in its wake, is a wide pool of grey. Puzzles don’t fit. Answers aren’t easy, when there are answers. I do something rare and cry after dropping off Hallie at preschool, knowing that every child wont get the same opportunities she does. That my dinner table isn’t big enough to feed our hungry neighbors. That life isn’t just about pulling up your bootstraps. And then I curl up to Hulu, a glass of wine, and Grey’s Anatomy to get lost in another life, in another world. Because somedays the most important things feel too big to fix. And my hair definitely isn’t one of those things.
A lot of years later, and I’m learning to sit in the grey. It almost feels like home now. You’re wondering, I’m wondering, how do Honey Soy Roasted Chickpeas relate? They don’t but they do. They marry two contrasting flavors—salty and sweet—and make something beautiful. That’s what I think about the color grey and unkempt hair and unanswered questions.
Sweet and salty roasted chickpeas. A snack or a garnish? You decide.
1 can (15 oz.) chickpeas (also called garbanzo beans)
2 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tbsp. honey
dash of ground ginger
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
Rinse and drain chickpeas in colander. Shake to remove as much water as possible.
Add chickpeas to baking sheet. Pour soy sauce, honey (see note following), and ginger over chickpeas. (Note: before measuring honey, pour a bit of oil into the measuring spoon first then add the honey. This will allow for an easy release from the utensil.) Shake chickpeas around the pan for an even coating.
Bake for 20 minutes, tossing and flipping chickpeas a couple times throughout.
You are such a great writer. I was quite moved by this post. Well done.
i want to read and re-read this post over and over again because you summarized my feelings this morning with such beautiful writing. i work in a hospital where mostly i see are uninsured/homeless/abandoned etc…it is very hard for me to relate at times because school didnt teach me how to treat that. it was just black and white but in real world, everything is just grey.
about the hair, on the weekends, i let my hair do its thing but weekdays, i am yet not able to break free from my iron 🙁
Beautiful thoughts and beautiful photos. It’s a tough subject that doesn’t seem to make its way naturally into everyday conversations, so thanks for sharing here. I know I can relate (hair and all).
I do love your heart and feel that I totally understand you! The injustices and problems in this world are so enormous and overwhelming… I struggle to know what attitude I should have and how I should be living. I’ve never had much luck with roasted chickpeas, but I have to say that yours look perfect!
I too see my hair as a metaphor for acceptance of life… of aging, of different views of beauty. Lovely post. Thanks for sharing.
Your commentary was absolutely beautiful Thanks many, many times over for absolutely nailing how I too feel these days.
You’re amazing. 🙂
LOVE this post. The recipe is brilliant – roasted chickpeas are one of my favourites and the post has a raw honesty about it that makes it a pleasure to read!
Love this post in every way. Thanks for sharing with us!
My snack mode just switched from ‘on’ to ‘gimme gimme!’ These looks delish!
Wonderful, meaningful writing.
Can’t wait to try the recipe too.
I’ve said this before but I admire you so, so much, Melissa. You are everything I want to be! And that’s not facetious. I loved reading this. Life is a progression and I need to be better at rolling with it like you have done.
I loved this. I thought I was just getting an awesome recipe but instead it fed something my soul was needing.
Love love this post and every.single.word.
I love this post so much! I have gone through the exact same transition from b&w to grey, and grey almost always feel better. More real.
This is a really great post, and it’s so interesting to see how perspectives and priorities can shift with time. Thank you for sharing! And that recipe looks amazing, too.
i nearly cried reading this. such beautiful words, such honesty, such a great way to see the world. i’ve changed the black and white in my life too, along there are certain days that it creeps in, but more than ever, i feel comfort in the ordinary. xo
I love this post so much!
Her Heartland Soul
This is beautiful and true, both nostalgic and slightly heartbreaking.
Oh Melissa, as usual, your words are lovely and so telling. I love the analogy you’ve presented and the things it makes me think about in relation to how lives and things change, and how we change with them. Also, roasted chickpeas are just killer 🙂