My mother made oatmeal for breakfast every morning. She would kiss my father out the door and sit down with my siblings and I as we searched for candy dinosaur eggs in the oats. My hair, unconcerned with oatmeal would stray into my sibling’s personal space, and my mother would exclaim, “Oh! Rebecca! You have the most beautiful hair of all girls! Don’t ever lose it. Don’t let anyone take it. Your hair will open doors for you one day.”, and I thought she was being literal, but I know now that she wasn’t.
On the walk to school, birds would pluck single strands from my head, and I let them. This was the best part of my day. I was happy to know that whatever fear or embarrassment my hair might eventually cause, it would at least provide a sturdy foundation for the nests of neighbourhood birds.
Sometimes at school, small groups of boys would crowd around me and climb inside my hair, one at a time. Sometimes they would be yelling. I’d try to reach in after them, but couldn’t bend my elbow backwards like the double jointed girl in our class. Usually I had to wait for them to find their way out, but some boys got lost. My friend Peter was in my hair for three weeks until he came tumbling out. He told me ‘it smells like peaches!’ and so I didn’t eat fruit for years.