The first time I saw a stranger with dreads at the airport, I anxiously waited for my nod. He had long beautiful strawberry blond locks. Wow! My first nod was going to come any minute from this passing god of hair. Here he comes ... hello, over here! ... Jeez can I at least get eye contact? ... Nothing. Huh.
This happened repeatedly in my first few months and I was really bummed about being misinformed about my new community. As my locks matured, though, I started to get more street cred. But not from the beautiful dread gods, no. The new people with a messy mop of oily something on their heads (not unlike what I was sporting at the airport) would roll down their car windows at stoplights and ask for hair tips. They would flag me down at Petco and talk to me like we were old friends. I would be a good sport but was quietly looking at their hair like "Wait, she has dreads? Where?"
It was at that point that I realized there was a hierarchy of dreads. Some folks were brand new with knots so loose they could shampoo them out, and they were dying for some validation. The folks with mature locks had been going through this process for over a year and quite frankly just wanted to finish their #TargetRun before So You Think You Can Dance comes on.
I certainly don't think that my hair makes me any better or any worse than anyone else, and don't want to come across as arrogant, which my introversion likely misleads folks to thinking. Any time a dreadie says "Hey nice dreads!" I love to smile back and say "You too!" if I catch it in time (compliments in motion are quite common). But dang it, everyone deserves a smile. Everyone.
And yet the other day at Chipotle there was a dreadie in front of me waiting on his food. I knew from a quick glance that mine were farther along than his and a nod would have meant the world to him, but I just wanted to get my sofritas bowl and hit the road. Sorry, brother.
If you decide to dread your hair, do it for yourself or at least to spite an ex, but not to join a larger community. If you're looking for connection and unconditional support, go vegan. Seriously, we love each other and stick together no matter what! I know vegans who have waited by the other's car because they wanted to meet the owner of the animal liberation bumper sticker. Or just adopt an animal. Definitely swing by the shelter and everyone will love you there!