I have a special relationship with my hairdryer. It may be incredibly frivolous, but it’s one item I cannot live without. Really. I don’t travel without it. It doesn’t matter that most hotels have them, or that my mother owns one that I can borrow if I’m home for the weekend. I have to have mine. I know exactly how it works, exactly how long it takes to dry my hair and I know just what I need to do to make it work properly. Over the past few years, I’ve worked hard to make my life portable, but I’m not willing to sacrifice my hairdryer for luggage space.
I didn’t start using a hairdryer until high school. I’d always had long hair, but I never did much with it. I finally realized its merits when I was running late for school, my hair dripping down my back, promising not to be totally dry until second period, when by then it would have been twisted up and out of the way into a bun that would eventually turn into a partially damp tangle of dead cells. Such was my relationship with my hair. So, I started drying my hair. It took forever, but it was a lot better than waiting five hours and leaving water marks everywhere I went. My morning routine got about ten minutes longer, but I gained valuable time to think, plot out my day and review for whatever test I had studied for the night before.
By the time I graduated from high school, my hair was almost to my elbows and my hairdryer was my best friend. Then, two weeks after graduation, I cut my hair to shoulder length, just because I could. I bought a fold-up travel hairdryer to get me through college and I was set. Midway through my first semester of freshman year, my dryer began to smoke one morning, giving off enough fumes that I worried it would catch the attention of the Resident Assistant across the hall, who might then think that my roommate and I were burning contraband candles or much worse. So my mini dryer was haphazardly thrown into the hall trashcan and I substituted by borrowing one of my friend’s every morning and running it back and forth between her room and mine.
After Christmas break, I purchased my current model, to complement a new actual hairstyle with shape and body that required careful drying in order to actually look like hair and not like a leftover hobbit wig from the Lord of the Rings movies. It was sleek and black, didn’t give the impression it was going to burst into flames at a moment’s notice and had a nifty attachment that made my thin brown hair actually shiny and smooth like the box promised. With the purchase of this hair dryer, I, a self-proclaimed girl of simple needs, became high-maintenance. I would blow dry my hair if I was running from a fire, taking out the trash or heading to church. If I was given three things to take to a desert island, I would have taken a raft, a book and my hairdryer, hands down. Hey, if a girl has a chance of meeting Captain Jack Sparrow on the high seas, she’d better make sure she has amazing hair.
But somehow my hair-appliance fanaticism helped me through my OCD-induced worries and gave me some of the self-confidence that I desperately needed. When I found myself stranded at strange airports due to bad weather and cancelled flights several times during my sophomore year, I comforted myself with the fact that if I was forced to live a Tom Hanks-esque existence in an airport terminal for weeks to come, at least my hair would look fantastic because I wouldn’t have to dry it under the public bathroom hand dryers as long as I had my trusty hairdryer by my side. When I impulsively chopped off eight inches of my long locks into a pixie cut just after my 20th birthday, the soft whine of my hairdryer masked the sound of my tears when I realized just how little hair I had left to dry. It provided me with a constant activity when I felt adrift during my first summer of living completely on my own, something I did every morning, just as regularly as getting dressed and brushing my teeth. It made my hair look fabulous during the awkward growing out stage, as my hair slowly but steadily grew past my earlobes to my shoulders. And so, just like clockwork, every morning a little past 7am, I reach for my hairdryer as I force my eyes to open wide enough for me to see where to part my hair. My hairdryer warmed up my head during the week-long cold water shortage when I showered just long enough to wash my hair. It gives me something to do, a simple task that is the same every morning no matter where I am. In the morning, my hairdryer is my best friend. It’s always the last thing I put into my suitcase and the first thing I take out. It’s the only power tool I know how to use. With the help of my hairdryer, I don’t need coffee, or a shoulder to cry on. I just need to flip on the on switch and turn my head upside down and let gravity and my Conair 1875 take care of the rest.
“How can I control my life if I can’t control my hair?” –Anonymous