Josh and I have celebrated our fair share of homecomings during his time in the Navy. During the vast majority of them, no cameras were allowed so all those memories are stored in my wonky brain. (Scary!) Hopefully committing those memories here will preserve them forever.
I saw her across the room, and I disliked her immediately. She had blue hair.
In my early 20’s I have a very clear vision of how things were supposed to be and how a person should act in any given situation. (It wasn’t until I hit my 30’s that I realized my “clear visions” were simply me being a complete bitch. True story.) A grown woman … a mother … dying her hair blue and showing up that way to a submarine homecoming certainly did not fit into those guidelines.
You’d think I would have had other, more important things to think about at Homecoming, but I sat there at my table stewing about her. How tacky to have blue hair at Homecoming! Her husband would be mortified … and pissed! Her kids must be so embarrassed! Why didn’t any of her friends tell her how ridiculous she looked?!?
She laughed with her friends and seemed to thoroughly enjoy the long afternoon of waiting for our men to come home. I laughed and talked with my own friends a bit, but I was very preoccupied with that blue hair. I kept my dark, rude thoughts to myself for the most part, but finally I couldn’t hold it in any longer. I turned to my group of friends.
“Okay, so what is UP with the blue hair?” I asked with just a touch of venom.
One friend laughed. “It’s a pretty good story actually!”
I waited to hear a wild hair mistake or a chagrined tale of a regretful weekend. I didn’t get one. What I got instead was shame. On myself. And a few tears for a beautiful tribute.
It turns out that this wife and her sailor were celebrating a very special Homecoming. Their last! He was retiring shortly after the patrol, and this would actually, aside from their Hail and Farewell, be their last Navy event … period. In their 20+ years of Navy life, one routine had set itself. Before he left for a deployment he would say, “Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do!” and she would reply, “Promise you won’t come home to blue hair!” Of course it was a joke. She had never dyed her hair. It was just her way of promising him that she would be there taking care of business until he came home again.
But this homecoming was special and required a special celebration. Because she wouldn’t have to do it alone anymore. Because he’d be there, and because they could take of business together for the rest of their lives. So she dyed her hair blue in a poetic tribute.
To this day I think of her blue hair often. For years it was simply a reminder of how beautiful and unique a relationship with a submariner can be. These days, as my “clear visions” continue to dissipate and I begin to really see things, her blue hair reminds me that things are not always what they seems, that my “guidelines” don’t always fit, and that sometimes a blue little hair dye can create a beautiful moment that lasts a lifetime.