When you are younger your hair shields you. It acts as a barrier between self and world, and as you get older you learn how to manipulate it so that it says pretty and pristine; so that it says effortless perfection, never process and most definitely, never struggle. Your hair becomes the surface on which you construct your path to perfection and authenticity; a path that will help you overcome obstacles that will try to displace you and attempt to steal the ground from right under your feet. On your head you plot your path to freedom, absorbing and navigating oppression, because you know that on this land you are black woman, before you are ever intelligent, creative, happy, or free. And like your mind and body, your hair becomes tired of trying to find this straighter path. And so you flick from YouTube channel to Wordpress article, looking for ways to pour back life into your hair. You realize that you give so much that you forget what it feels like to linger in your own embrace; you forget what it is to love yourself into life. That Sunday as rain pours from the skies, you realize that what your hair needs is protection; you begin to understand that what you crave is safety. And as you braid flat twists onto your hair, your fingers falling into the pattern your mother made you memorize, you feel safe - like you no longer have to contort your mind to climb obstacles, where you should be cultivating protection.