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Bambina

Two years ago, in summer 2018, waterfront to the lake, under the Texas stars and an almost full moon. A 10-year-old girl, the daughter of my friend, began to play with my braids. At first, I felt her touching my hair, but then her fingers pulled my rubber band. Her tiny little fingers were unraveling my braids–two braids intertwined into one. It was so cute. She proceeded to let my hair loose. I was worried she might tangle my hair but kept quiet. Thankfully, she did not and knew to loosen the braids from the bottom to the top. My hair free-flowing, she played with my long locks for a minute and happily ran away, like a little fairy.

Speechless for a few seconds, I sat there and didn’t move. Later, I asked the little girl if she knew Rapunzel’s story, and she did not. So I asked her what her favorite fairy tale is or her favorite Disney princess. Moana is her favorite! Regardless, I was stunned that not only did this little girl feel so close to me like I were one of her China dolls she was playing with. I was also perplexed because it didn’t anger me.

Make no mistake about this story; I do not want kids. Love them, don’t want one, which shocks some people because I am Latina/Lebanese, and family is essential. Regardless, this child’s sweetness and curiosity reminded me of myself when I was a little girl. She just wanted to see my hair in a different light and then got bored and went to play with something else… It touched my heart to remember what it was like to feel at ease and be around the silliness and innocence of a child at play. Now. If an adult, male or female, came up and just grabbed my hair and put their fingers in my braids and started to take out my braids, well, it won’t bode well. I have to feel very comfortable to allow an adult to touch my hair so intimately. I do not like random people touching my hair, and because it’s so long, many people reach for my braids, and it’s invasive. Sometimes inappropriate if people make jokes about them being like horse reins. Unless ‘you’ are my hairstylist, my lover, my bestie, a dear friend, or there is a dire need to touch my braids (that I can’t even think of). It’s just too intimate, like Robert Redford washing Meryl Streep’s hair in that old movie. Playing with my hair is something I now associate with intimacy, sexual, or nonsexual. Through a child’s eyes, it was neither. She was just playing dress-up and curious about a woman older than her.

Frankly, I wasn’t always so jumpy about my hair until I got jumped in November 2015. Since that hostile incident, I’ve become very particular about my hair. This neurotic woman in her 40’s I never spoke to in my life jumped me on a Sunday afternoon on Rainey St. and I could feel her fingers in my hair. People don’t realize how sensitive the scalp is. At first, I had no idea what was happening. I’d never been jumped before. First came the impact. No clue what was going on except I knew to bend my knees and ground my feet into place to not fly forward onto the concrete. Then, I could hear a female’s voice shrieking and shouting into my ear. I felt the weight of someone taller and heavier than me, hanging on my back. I felt a tight grip of thick, strong hands around my spine and hair. She was trying to take me to the ground but was not strong enough, and it was uncomfortable and painful. And also humiliating because we were in public. She was so hysterical her boyfriend drug her out by the shoulder. I call her gorilla woman. This female is Caucasian, so it’s NOT about skin color. It’s that she behaved like an animal, precisely like a gorilla or a monkey hanging on my back, since then… Sometimes it can upset me to the point of anger when random people touch my hair. It triggers the anger and disdain from being jumped.

As my friend watched his young daughter touch my hair, he was surprised to see a softer side of me. I felt a little vulnerable because he’s used to the tomboy in me… When she ran away, I looked at him with a smile and said, “You better not try that because you will get a different reaction.” He laughed and said he knew better than to try. The memory of this sweet, little girl playing with my braids is a pleasant memory to replace the bad one. It’s interesting how one vile, intense memory that is negative can often negate the positive memories. I guess that’s the power of transformation. Transforming time and memories into a reality we desire, rather than dwell in the past. I strive for a loving, peaceful environment. I seek to be around kindhearted people, and children often tend to be kinder and less jaded than adults.

PS: I chose this snow globe video because it’s from childhood. Well, technically, it came from San Francisco, but I had one of these as a Bambina after going to see the ballet when I was 4-5 years old. The first snow globe broke & the replacement was lost. And then, after I saw Swan Lake by The Royal Moscow Ballet in Dublin, Ireland. It made me want a new ballerina snow globe. #Tchaikovsky

Published by Nicolette Mallow

‡ Nicolette Mallow is an Artist: writer, dancer, vocalist, thespian, model, and (amateur) photographer. Writing is Mallow’s strongest artistic skill. Internationally published in the United States and Europe, Nicolette has obtained 110+ publications thus far. Mallow has interviewed an extensive list of talent and collaborated with companies and PR teams from Texas Monthly, National Geographic, Prevention Magazine, HBO Films, The Hollywood Reporter, SXSW, The David Lynch Foundation, Cine Las Americas, The University of Texas at Austin and more. Presently her portfolio entails 12 national awards or scholarships, including both individual and group projects. Working with Press and Publicity teams from companies like Sunshine Sachs, Fons PR, Frank PR, and CW3PR — Mallow can liaise with publicists, entrepreneurs, and their brands. Since 2005, for 17 years, Nicolette Mallow has covered numerous press, corporate and red carpet events as a (dyslexic) writer. Mallow has interviewed talent far beyond her years, including Jimmy Chin, Greta Gerwig, Bob Roth, Dr. Travis Stork, Joan Lunden, Larysa DiDio, Lauren Handel Zander, James White, Jay Roach, Naomi Whittel and Roc Chen. Once, she was a public speaker for a national business conference. Her career is diverse and transcends a vast array of industries, but the focus is always on the arts. Nicolette Mallow does enjoy all forms of writing, but her favorite writing genres to create entail editorial, arts & entertainment, literary journalism, travel, magical realism, nonfiction, technical and promotional publicity. Over time Nicolette has attained Press Credentials to events like Texas Film Awards (hosted by Austin Film Society), The Mexic-Arte Museum, Austin Film Festival, Euphoria Music Festival, and The Blanton Museum of Art. She also wrote for Savannah Magazine, a radio station operated by EMMIS Communications, District newspaper, and the Thinkery (formerly Austin Children’s Museum). In her spare time, Nicolette creates a magical realism novel and turns her nonfiction memoirs into short story novellas. Obtaining two degrees from the Savannah College of Art & Design (SCAD), she has a Master of Arts degree in Arts Administration (a graduate degree now recognized as Creative Business Leadership) and a B.F.A. in Writing. Born and raised in Texas and NYC—Nicolette Mallow is also a world traveler that lives for art and loves to learn. “L’art Pour L’art.”

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