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Bleach Bautismo

Mallory Dickson

I cut it, the long strips of curl shaped like zigzag scissors, dull blonde streaks like caramel laced through the ends of my almost-but-not-quite-black hair. Surviving months of Swim Team chlorine, hundreds of Cross Country ponytails, a car-crash-worthy breakup, I have clung to this hair for over four years. I don’t know if it defines me, or if I define it. Curly, definitely curly, although my first year at college has flattened and cooked my oceanic rulos into ripples in a lake. While she cuts she talks, this amiga latina with large hips like a sofa, hair baptized by blonde dye, black wing tips lifting off from the corners of her dark brown latina eyes. Washing over me, caressing me with the gentle shhhhhh of Castellano: I understand and I don’t. Who am I to cut off the past? Who am I not to? Is this symbolic shearing me, me shedding an old skin? She asks what color the new blonde streaks will be: dulce de leche, vanilla, musky smoke or cracked leather blonde? I find myself pointing to the platinum, shiny as a new vintage record, don’t-look-it-might-blind-you-blonde. Light as gringa skin, dipped in white chocolate, after the summer tan has rubbed off and we all resemble Snow White a little. That is too light she says, but I will take this plunge, this smell of bleach, this baptism of fire in Buenos Aires.