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Gray Gardens

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A few weeks ago, I finally made it to Florida.

I say finally because, growing up in cold cold Canada, Florida was like some mythical, magical utopia. The lucky kids in our class would take off a few days before March Break, and return with sunburns and t-shirts with neon boats on them. The really lucky ones would come back with burns, shirts, and stories about Disney World. Well, I never made it to Disney world. I didn’t even get close.

But on March 3, to Florida I went. And on March 9, I came home with a sunburn, a t-shirt, and something else: a whole bunch of gray hair.

That’s right: I went gray in Florida.


Alright. That’s not technically true – but it makes for a good intro doesn’t it!

Now here’s the real deal: Of course I didn’t go gray in Florida. Old people aren’t contagious! Well, some of them are. But not like that. More accurately, a few weeks ago, under the blinding fluorescent lights in our Florida condo bathroom, I realized that I am no longer going gray: I’m gone gray.

It wasn’t really a surprise. The surprise came almost a year earlier, only a few weeks after Connor was born. There were only a few strands back then, but they were each of them undeniably silver. A quick trip to the Googleator revealed that sprouting a few gray hairs was a common occurrence after rough labour. A more involved Google search suggested a link between trauma and silvery streaks. Regular readers will recall I had both. Two points for Gryffindor!

I developed a slight affection toward those colourless curls. I came to view them like the shock of gray Rogue gets at the end of the first X-Men movie: Hers, a result from being hooked up to a bunch of machines while some guy basically sucks years off her life. Mine, the same! Har har. But really, they were almost like visible representations of the battle my body fought to bring Connor into the world. And that’s kind of cool, right?

Anyways, despite the pride in my mutant locks, I eventually made my way to a drug store and picked up a box of the same colour dye I’d used for years: (Loreal Preference Medium Ash Blonde – 02!).

And that (as it was every year since my second year of university) was my routine. Every couple of months, right around the time my hair started to enter unruly-triangle-head phase, I bought a box of dye then went to get a cut, hoping my hairdresser wouldn’t scold me for being too cheap to dye it at the salon.

But this winter, for whatever reason, I got a little lazy. I let my very mousy roots crawl a little further down my head.

And that brings us right back to that fluorescent Florida bathroom. While the dull deceptive Ontario clouds let me believe my hair was still mostly just a dun-blonde, the bright beating lights of The Sunshine State allowed for no such denial about my roots: I’m not Rogue any more. I’m Storm. Well, I’m Storm on a cloudy day. But still.

The fact remains, my gray hairs are no longer a contained postpartum fluke. They’re the new normal. And you know what? I don’t care. Like, at all! I’m sure going gray before 30 would freak out a few of us. But I’m surprisingly chill about it – and I owe some of that to Florida.


Here’s the thing about Florida: In Florida, everyone is gray. And yet, there is colour from corner to corner. There are blue skies and pink buildings, rainbow beach umbrellas and orange beach bods. There’s something kind of lovely about the idea of gray haired folk deciding that, while their hair is no longer polycromatic, there’s no reason their surroundings can’t be. They don’t need highlights in their hair anymore: the highlights that bounce off a shimmering ocean at sunset will do just fine.

Basically, looking over my photos from Florida: my conclusion is this: who the heck cares what colour is coming out of your head when you have a world that will always be bursting with rainbow brightness?

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Now, were I to give this post an equally …DRAMATIC… conclusion, I’d tell all of you that I’m fully embracing my lovely lacklustre locks, and will proudly hashtag all future selfies #grayhairdontcare! But that, too, wouldn’t be technically true. Technically, I’ve got gray hair. I know it, you know it. But as my Snapchat followers also know, (username is JulieVanCan. Follow me!) I’m still planning to ride the boxed blonde wave a little longer.

If, and when, I decide to go gray all the way, I’m sure I’ll have no problem finding colour somewhere else. Ideally, somewhere very near a heated pool.

Have a colourful day, friends!


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