Holley is one of my closest friends. She is a magnetic and magical woman and I consider her a sister, a confidant, partner in crime, and a muse. She is the mother of 2 beautiful and captivating daughters Loretta and Savina, both with completely different special needs.
Holley stole my heart with her beautiful Roma eyes and her knee length black hair at first sight, and she has been a force in my life ever since. Please read this post about Holley, the Roma people and their hair.
I am endlessly fascinated by Roma people, or “gypsies’ as they have been historically called.
Interesting fact here though……Calling a Roma person a gypsy is like any other derogatory racial slur. But in our culture, the word gypsy has taken on some kind of positive mystical archetype. The gypsy moniker has become so normalized that non-Roma women all over the place are calling themselves gypsies without realizing any cultural implications. The origin of the word has been buried in one of our worlds biggest cultural misunderstandings.
My Roma love story began for me when I was a 3 year old America born little girl living on a Fava bean farm in Portugal. I would sneak out of bed at night and watch the families in the Roma camp dancing to wonderful music late into the night out my little bedroom window, wishing I could be there and wondering why the Portuguese people around me seemed to dislike these amazing people so much. It was so hard to understand. It was my first little picture of massive cultural predjudice. Read about it, so that you understand.
Holley’s daughter Savina is almost 4 years old. She was born strong, bright, and completely deaf. As you can see, her lack of hearing does not in impair her ability to express herself! Ah the beauty of visual communication. Savina gets it.
I had the pleasure of coloring Savina’s hair for the first time last week. She wanted pink ends, so I used the last ounce of my Manic Panic Cleo Rose and did some easy pink dip-dye.
I didn’t have to bleach her ends first because like most little kids, her ends were naturally lighter from being a kid in the Summer sun for the last 3 months. It worked perfectly.
I put her hair in a high ponytail, and then just worked through it applying the pink piece by piece in the ends and laying it on foil. Want to try this on yourself or your kid? It is stupidly easy to DIY, here is the tutorial:)
Savina was so proud sitting there in the chair, trying to contain her excitement. She checked her little self out from all angles in the mirror from all angles.
After we rinsed her color out and it was time to take some pictures, I saw this awesome side of Savina that I hadn’t yet witnessed. She came alive in front of a camera……A completely fierce and independent spirit. Just like her mama.
After that, the kids played together for a while in their own awesome way. My girls never play quietly under any circumstances, but with Savina I witnessed this lovely quiet play that shocked me. The three girls sat on the floor together building with blocks independantly but with collaboration and sharing. It was so peaceful and sweet. In the other room, Loretta laid contentedly for a while in a nest that the girls had made for her. Loretta is a wonderful story for a different day. I will try to get my hands in her hair soon so you all can meet her, too.
As a mother, watching my children adapt to play without a common language is really cool. They don’t skip a beat. Playing is universal. Children seem to understand each other in a certain way that transcends language or experience.
I am looking forward to learning more signs with my kids in the future.
Among many of the amazing things that Holley does in life, pioneering an effort to change deaf public school policy in our city which has notoriously neglected the rights of deaf children and families is just one of them. Want to donate to a great cause or get involved with deaf policy? Check this out.