Shades of Grey

I’ve spotted something quite alarming recently–mostly among my friends, but I think it’s creeping up on me too. Grey hair. Even the cat appears to be afflicted, with a little white patch appearing between his shoulders (do cats go grey? I know dogs do… but cats?).

I’ve managed to catch up with several friends over the last month or two, having not seen most of them since the start of the year… or even last year in some cases. And most of them are going grey. This particularly seems to be the men (clearly all of us ladies are either blessed with perfect genes or we’re dyeing our hair like crazy) who now cover the range from sprinkle-of-salt to completely grey. It’s odd, seeing it, because the greyest of them all I’ve known since we were 16 or so–he’s Other Half’s best friend and was Best Man at our wedding–and even when you consider that he’s been lumbered with the early-greying gene, there’s nothing quite like realising your friends & peers are all At That Age.

Turning 30 didn’t really strike me as being a big deal. It’s nothing, that one. But this morning, I had to take my little boy to our first school “open morning”: he starts school properly next autumn, so this is our first foray into the (frankly, terrifying) world of LEA forms and… stuff. I’m absolutely sure that at some point, someone’s going to call my bluff and realise that in fact, when it comes to parenting, I’m not organised or knowledgeable at all. I’m just sort of muddling along, with the odd flail in the direction of rightness.

But that… now that made me feel the grey encroaching. As does the thought I have to go to a Writery Thing tomorrow, where there will be Proper Writers (not just those of us who don’t yet have an actual ISBN to our name, let alone the ones writing about angels who shoot people and enjoy an unhealthy relationship with a hipflask…) all of whom are bound to see that I’m basically winging it…. If I come out of there with roughly the same number of greys I had before, I’ll be doing well.

I’ve actually been going grey since I was 15. Very, very slowly, but very, very definitely. I’ve never bothered too much about it: my hair, in its natural state, is a fairly bland, dark shade of brown with nothing especially exciting going for it. And I figure that when I’ve bothered to have it dyed, I’m paying a fortune for highlights which are sort of already there. (I said sort of, alright?)

All of this is apropos of very little, other than the current red-dyed disaster–never going there again, I swear–is growing out, and the other night in the mirror, I spotted the greys coming back, just like I spotted them on the heads of my friends.

When I saw them on the others, sitting in my kitchen, I realised that it’s a reminder of just how long we’ve all known each other. One since we were 16; one I met in the first year of university, which considering we graduated a decade ago, that’s some length of time. The last, I met when he was a doctoral student tutoring me for my Masters. He’s not as grey as everyone else–but he’s a Latin teacher, so the usual rules don’t apply.

They’re reminders of the dinners, of the weekends, the barbecues, the birthdays, the housewarmings… of all the other kitchen tables we’ve sat around in our time. Of weddings, funerals and (in our case) a baby. Of far too many bottles of wine, and an utterly impenetrable maze of in-jokes and shared history which can be relived with and explained to each new member of the group… but never quite shared.

I think I’ll be keeping my greys a while yet.

The wrinkles, though? They’re another story altogether…

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