Friday, June 28, 2013

Raising a Red Head in a Red State

I've lived in Georgia since 1999 after spending my childhood in Massachusetts. Though I moved to Atlanta as an adult, I feel like the South is where I really grew up. Although extremely friendly, Georgia is also extremely conservative. I didn't give much thought to what it means to live in a red state, until spending the last week and a half in the vicinity of Massachusetts, straddling the border of Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

Eli wears his "hair" everywhere we go. For those who don't know, his "hair" is a colored head band with hair extensions that I now buy by the case at Dollar Tree. 

As one can imagine, Eli gets a lot of attention with his brightly colored hair extensions (although his naturally red hair can draw enough attention on its own as can be seen in this piece I wrote a few years ago). When we are home in our northwestern Atlanta suburb, most people will make comments such as, "Wow! Look at that hair!", or "What have you got on your head?". When we are out as a family, the four of us are used to smiling politely and making some sort of quiet and awkward response so that we can just continue on our way and enjoy our anonymity once again.

But in the last week and a half, I've noticed a huge shift. When Eli has worn his hair out, we have been approached just as many times as when we are at home. But the responses to Eli and his lovely locks are entirely different here than they are at home. Almost unilaterally, the comment is, "Wow! What beautiful hair!". The only other comment we have heard was just a couple of nights ago, when were out in Newburyport. Instead of saying "What beautiful hair," two gentlemen sitting on a stoop and smoking cigarettes said, "You have a really cool kid!" with big, appreciative smiles.

I smiled back and said, "Yes, I really do."

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