It's about my hair and hats - recent changes that followed, one upon the other.
My curly-frizzy hair has long been a source of more problems than pride. Always unmanageable unless I cropped it close, which my husband deplores and frankly I don't care for much, either. As a teenager I struggled to straighten it, till in the mid-'70s it was acceptable as "natural": when asked where I got my "permanent" - I'd reply, "From my dad, and it is permanent."
The curl flopped to shapelessness after my pregnancies, and only two decades later, with the menopause safely behind me, it bounced back. Still unmanageable, to my dismay: bushy unless frequently trimmed by a top stylist in town, which my low-maintenance lifestyle and budget wouldn't allow.
Then, around the beginning of the year (i.e .September), I happened on a website, "Madame Noire," that gave tips on (among other things) black women's hair. While I don't pretend to be black, I've often considered my kinky (though not nappy) hair a throwback to some bona fide Middle Eastern ancestry. Now I'm reading and contemplating: your hair is not European, so forget all these efforts to achieve a look that isn't right - or even possible - for you.
All right! I considered my options. Cornrows are available thanks to the Ethiopian immigration (whose young girls pick up pocket money doing braids), but I feared overexposure for my tender scalp. (My hair's coarse but not abundant :-/
Dreadlocks have made it to Israel. As it's an unwieldy word in Hebrew, locally the style's called ''rastot" (pl. of "rasta"), but not for me. I'm too old and square for that youthful or counterculture look. Besides, after half a century avoiding that matted look, I doubt I could embrace it as a style.
So I would dampen my salt-and-pepper locks each morning, shake them vigorously while finger-combing into separate curls, lots of them, and head out to face the world. And then, just before winter set in, I got word that my mom died, and then my dad.
This isn't the time or place for me to describe what went on after that, and will still be going on for a long time.
Suffice it to say that I soon went to spend a month with my brothers back in the States, trying to grasp my new situation - I'm the oldest, and the only one married and with children. When I took time for myself, I knit. Hats. Mom wore hats, even when it wasn't fashionable, because she thought it went with the job. (She'd been a sales manager for Avon Cosmetics in Los Angeles, with very little preparation or training; a story for another time...) No matter that the other managers didn't. It suited her.
So I fashioned the idea that for my year of mourning - and possibly ever after - I would wear a hat outside the house (and sometimes at home too). It gives me the feeling that Mom is with me, and I'm doing something she would do. The hat's a symbol I wear close, like my wedding ring. (The ring I can see - the hat, I feel.)
Back home in Israel, though, it makes a different kind of statement: excepting fashionable young things, a hat is worn by a religiously observant married woman to hide her hair in public. That isn't a commandment I'm observing. I explained it to my coworkers on my return, that it's "for my mother." But when our skullcap-wearing postman asked me, was I "being strengthened" (i.e. in my faith or observance), I replied, Yes.
But it was DD#2, the daughter with the fanciful use of English, who dubbed me "Rastamom" - a takeoff on "rastaman" (pronounced, I suppose, "rastamon"), because of how I appear with my still-unmanageble but luxuriant hair tucked into all these slouchy berets, tams, cloches, toques, and beanies, leaving a fringe of curls all around.
It's meant well, it's good, and I like it.