A Single Gray Hair


According to my coat, I should be bald.

Joey, my son, had a debate event to attend in Washington DC and needed a suit coat and his overcoat dry cleaned. I decided to have my my pea coat cleaned. For the first time since I bought it 3 years ago.

I had it back for 2 days before it was completely covered in my hair.

This is why I can’t have nice things. 

I do not understand how I still have hair.

Yesterday, I felt that familiar tickle on my arm that meant another hair had detached from my head. I looked down and pulled it off my arm.

One long, twinkly gray hair.

I stared at it for a while and contemplated this definitive prove that I am getting old.

Which is a nice way of saying I had a momentary freak out. It was internal. No one else witnessed my mini melt down.

One of the benefits of having a traumatic childhood is that I am able to disassociate when I get stressed out. Sure, anything on the dissociative spectrum isn’t a good thing, but I find that having a tendency toward depersonalization can come in handy. I mean, it’s not like I can just get rid of it, so I might as well appreciate it. There are times when detaching is the most comfortable thing that can happen.

The thing is, I have as little control over when I feel detached as I have over my internal jukebox. So that means that I might blurt out Weird Science by Oingo Boingo while not feeling excited over some really cool shit that is going on in my life right now.

The lack of emotion is what sucks about feeling detached. Stress is stress. It makes no difference if it is good stress or bad stress, any stress can kick off a mild round of depersonalization.

I think I’ve been detached from feeling a lot of feelings I need to have over aging.

I think that seeing that single gray hair pierced my haze.

There is no denying that I’m getting older. Not just getting older, but changing in a more material way than I have in decades.

Leaving my teens and entering my twenties wasn’t difficult physically, I went from playing softball and bowling and volleyball to dancing two or three nights a week in the clubs. I could go for hours and still get up for work in the morning.

I started working out like a fiend in my early thirties, so I felt great. I’m sure I needed a little more time to recover than I did in my teens and twenties, but not enough to care.

By my forties? Well, I broke down a little. There were surgeries, some aches and pains, but I could still work out like a fiend…I just didn’t as often as I did in my thirties. I could still convince myself that I was the same, that the changes were so minor that they almost didn’t count.

Now, well..now has been different. In my head, I feel the same as I have for decades. But my body doesn’t feel the same. My face doesn’t look the same. I can still work out, but I’m not quite as much of a fiend as I used to be.

A single gray hair made me really consider what I have in front of me. A single gray hair made me admit to myself that I have changes to make that are no longer a good idea, but necessary.

My healthy diet has to happen more often than two or three days a week.

Working up to fiend status is also necessary.

I want to roll on the floor with my grandkids. Even the ones who aren’t here yet. I don’t want to miss out of experiencing life because the trek is too difficult. I’m not ready for that, even if I am getting older.

I’m not done yet, I know this.

But I am changing. I am aging. A single gray hair made me contemplate these changes.

How do I feel about this?

I am standing in the Warrior pose. I have the middle finger of my right hand extended and I’m summoning with my left hand.

Bring it.





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  • Shhhh, I’m going to tell you a secret that not many people want you to know. Although there are definitely shit things about aging, mostly it is fucking brilliant.

    You get to wear what you want, look how you want and tell people exactly what you think. You can have loads of sex without getting pregnant and a whole heap of other things.

    I don’t think you should be worried, you should be excited 😀 😀

    • I mostly am! I love it…but there are things with my health that I’ve been ignoring that I can no longer afford to do. I have to be realistic about this. I can’t eat twizzlers all day because I’m stressed..I can’t lay around and watch TV every night after work because it’s been a bad week. And I’d really like to be able to walk around after sleeping or sitting for a long time without it hurting.

  • I had the same conversation with myself today… Except we don’t have Twizlers in Australia and I have always hated working out… But the not missing out on grandchildren thing I absolutely get…I failed, however, to convince myself yet again. Thanks for the boot up the clacker… Time to get serious

  • I love my gray. I do. I feel like it’s my badge of honor. And it’s kind of cool, you know? It grows mostly in a sort of stripe from over my left eye – sort of like Stacy London’s.
    I nodded all the way through your list – the physical differences that I’ve noticed on this side of 40. But so far? My 40s have been far more exciting and rewarding than either my 20s or my 30s. Is that bad? Does it mean my youth was meaningless and wasted? Nah. I think I’ve just learned how to grab life and shake it around better. Perhaps upkeep of the chassis requires a bit more effort, but it’s not a bad thing – I have a young child to raise and I don’t want to do it from the sidelines.
    And that said, I should probably get off my butt and hit the treadmill.
    Have a great day!

    • I love Stacy London’s hair! I’m just 32, but I have several gray hairs at the top of my head. Luckily my hair is think so it’s hidden, but sometimes a wiry gray hair just sticks straight up, and fucks with my vanity. I’m hoping it goes gray evenly because I hate dying my hair. And I’m okay with aging. My body feels and looks different, and I can’t do what I could do in my 20s, but my 30s have been so rewarding. I feel like my 40s are going to be even better still.

  • Three days before my 25th birthday I found 5 white hairs. I put them in a plastic baggie and saved them for the longest time. Then the white hairs became more common. My mom was fully white by 33. I am my mom’s carbon copy, so I expect the same will be my fate. On a positive note, the hairs are white and not grey. That means that dyeing it will be easy. Also, considering how fast my hair grows, I may become platinum blonde so my roots aren’t so easy to see…but I 100% look better as a brunette. Maybe I’ll start dyeing my hair fun colors. Work place “rules” be damned…

  • Even though the gray hair broke through your haze of depersonalization it sounds like the haze slowed it down and is helping you deal with it in a good way. You’re stressed about getting older, but you’re focused on the things you have to look forward to–and that warrior pose is awesome.

    And maybe you’ll be like me. I’ve been finding gray hairs since my mid-twenties. When it first happened I thought, oh, cool, in a few years I’ll look like Steve Martin. But it’s stubbornly refused to go gray. It just pops out a gray hair here and there. When I went bald last summer I was told my hair might come back gray and curly. I thought, oh, cool, I’ll look like a significantly shorter Peter Capaldi. But instead it’s come back its original color and mostly straight, except for popping up in weird places, forcing me to yell “LAY THE FUCK DOWN!” at the mirror most mornings.

    And there are worse things than going gray. Not being carded at the liquor store, for instance. When I’m buying alcohol and the cashier asks for my ID I always say, “Thanks for asking!” And they usually say, “We’re required to check everyone’s no matter how old you look.” And I growl, “You don’t have to tell me that.”

  • RIGHT back atcha…. BRING IT!! My favorite thing about getting older and *gasp* finding MANY grey hairs, is the peace and acceptance that comes with it. I am finding that the battles that used to bombard me, are not as significant in their power. I’ll take the insights, the wisdom, and the peace along with the grey hairs, the aging body, the lesser work outs and dance clubs any day. 😉

  • I have no idea if I possess grey hair or not, mainly because my hair is bleached and my eyesight is so bad that even with the varifocals I doubt I would see one. I do have a turkey neck though, which depresses the hell out of me. ( I wonder if the beard, which my hormones are so determined to fertilise, will extend down and cover it?).
    To some extent I think we all have to detach from the feelings we have about ageing, but there is no point becoming King Canute and trying to stop the inevitable, we might as well get off our creaking arses and go and have a paddle in the oncoming tide.
    I’m all for the warrior stance, and as for the finger, the old crone who has taken up residence in my mirror gets that every time I see her.

  • I agree with Ann. I’m more perturbed by the turkey neck. Mostly because there doesn’t seem to be anything I can do about it. And beard hairs! What kind of cruel joke is that?
    But mostly I am content with being older. I like where I am in life and who I am. But I don’t want to end up as one of those bent-over question-mark people. Stand up straight!

  • Reading this made me think of the penny scene in Somewhere In Time. I will never have that “gray hair” moment of realizing I am getting older. I was 23 years old when my brother spotted three of the little fuckers and helpfully plucked them for me. I blamed them on my ex-husband for years, and then one day had a memory of being a small child and helping my mother pick out hair color to cover her gray. Well, hell . . . genetics is much less interesting than “My ex gave me gray hair in my twenties”.

    I have a shit-ton of gray now. I colored for the last time on December 1st and am now eagerly awaiting the day it grows out enough that I can get all the color cut off without looking like GI Jane. I am looking forward to rocking all my silver highlights!

    On the down side, not having that holy shit moment allows me to ignore the fact that I need to eat better, exercise more, drink less, and basically quit coasting. I have had a lot of good in my life and I really think the best is yet to come, but I need to do a lot more to make it happen than I am. I am not stepping on the brake, but I am not stepping on the gas either! Just kinda sitting here idling, admiring my gray hair in the mirror.

  • Oh, FABULOUS ending!
    I just returned from my chiropractor who told me bluntly that sitting on the floor to fold clothes or create some little project is going to make my back hurt. It stopped me in my tracks. You mean, my body doesn’t just recover like it used to? It can’t handle that kind of bending anymore? (Or not for long periods of time). It’s a revelation.

  • Yep! One day I held the record for most curlers put in one person’s hair at the beauty salon and now I’m learning to back comb and lint brushing my clothes every day. I refuse to go grey but I am willing to consider going pink or blue with some white roots.
    As long as my body will do what I want it to do I am happy so I better not decide to take up roller-blading any times soon. I did learn to skate just a couple years ago so who knows what is next.

  • One thing that never fails to amuse me is people freaking out about turning 30. When I turned 30 back in late 2010 I welcomed that shit with open arms. My 20s sucked a giant, hairy nutsack and I needed that new decade. I also remarried just two weeks shy of my 30th birthday and it’s still one of the best damn things I’ve done so far in this decade.

    Aging doesn’t have to suck, this much I do know. Now whether I’ll handle it with grace and finesse or a “Oh holy shit!” freak out remains to be seen. Considering my husband is 13 years older than me, I suspect aging won’t be that big of a deal. Yea. That’s the lie I’m going to tell myself. Look for me in 10 years and ask how I feel.

  • I started getting grey hairs in my twenties. So, no big deal for me. It’s when my hair gets thin enough to see my scalp (that day is coming) that I will totally freak out.

  • I’m not trying to flatter you now: every time you mention a gray hair, or line, or other thing that’s age related, I am surprised because your phrasing and attitude are so kickass and so not-old.

    Ironically, with age and experience your writing has become more youthful.

  • Yeah, I learned that my body wouldn’t take the same kind of abuse at 47 as it did earlier by having a stroke in 2008. Keep an eye on your blood pressure, and figure out how to like vegetables and you’ll be miles ahead. Your hair is going to look good no matter what you do to it. And remember that aging beats the hell out of the alternative…

  • I am really not dealing with this getting old thing well, not at all! This did make me laugh though and it also raised an eyebrow as I didn’t know you had the dissociative thing too. I wonder how many of us there are out there?

    I dread 50, am refusing to accept the greys, the new box of hair dye awaits me and I shall be nuking those suckers on Friday. Am so not looking forward to my first grey elsewhere on my body though, that really will freak me out.

    The damn mirror doesn’t lie though.

  • I already have several gray hairs at the top of my head. I also have thick, curly hair, and I’m hoping I go gray evenly so I can wear it natural. I think it’ll be awesome. So that’s the end of my expression of vanity.

    I’m sorry the gray hair caused you so much stress, but you are so young in spirit! I love my interactions with you. You’re funny and smart, which I prize more than anything. Fuck the social definitions of beauty.

  • Thanks Michelle. I am new to your blog and thoroughly enjoy it! But I have to say I might be able to one-up you this time. I am 56, almost 57 and about 10 years ago I was driving somewhere with my youngest son, who was 18 at the time. At one point he reached over and with his hand lightly brushed against my neck. Then he brushed it again, with a bit more force. Then he paused, looked closely at my neck and blurted out, “Ewwwwwwww!!” “What?!” I cried incredulously. “What is it??!” “It’s a hair!” He declared. “And it’s attached!”

    Since that time I use my tweezers and magnifying mirror religiously.

  • We are both badass warriors chicks, ready to face getting older -which means getting more fabulous.

    I never really think of your age. You’re so funny and cool you just transcend age. I think you’re “youthing” – not aging.

  • I’m with you…let’s go down swinging.

    I spotted a couple of WHITE hairs in my eyebrows. I am not diggin that at all. So now when I’m dyeing my hair (shhhhh) I get a little paint brush and hit those suckers too.

  • I’m a 1972 baby too! But unlike you I found my first grey hair at 23 – the same year I became a maths teacher. A few weeks ago I decided to stop fighting, step away from the dye and let it grow. I’m going to look a bit Cruella de Ville but I’m also excited and feel like a rebel. Ageing is sneaky and slow but every now and then these landmarks come along like a first period or hot flush. Relish them! You’ll never have another first grey hair.
    Thanks for the blog, keep writing,

    • I’ve been covering mine for so long that I am not sure when I got my first one. I really like the gray now, though..it’s all streaky and cool.

      I was actually born in 1963, I just didn’t stick my fingers in my ears until 1972. haha.

  • I WISH I only had a single grey hair. I am struggling with my husband’s wish for us to save money and my own vanity and desire to get rid of ALL the grey hair. Vanity is winning this round.

  • Solidarity, sister! I now have gray hairs growing…in my eyebrows! I could pluck them out, but then I’d have that weird, no-eyebrow look – and I think that may be worse. On a serious note, what do you DO about the depersonalization? I have this problem myself and I just can’t seem to get a handle on how to snap myself out of it. That wall goes up and blocks everyone out – including me.

By Michelle

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