I can be very devoted to very unimportant things – like hair dryers. The one I have now is a really cheap version of a branded model, and it was purchased recently because of the fact that my hair – after 18 months – was reaching a length that necessitated hair dryer use most mornings. That, or it’s another way I cope with another short-lived oath not to buy new clothes for a while. Affordable hair dryers seemed like a necessary compromise. I also haven’t owned one in quite a while.
I got my first hair dryer when I was in fifth grade. Back then, my sister and I sported waist-length hair that we braided, put up in buns, or clamped into the so-called “shok-shoks” or butterfly clips. My mama, that Christmas, presented my sister and I with slim boxes wrapped carefully in red paper – this was 1999, when some of my classmates were starting to get Nokia 5110s and I seriously thought – for five seconds – could it be? – until the wrapping came off and it turned out to be a travel dryer. Cream for me, blue for Ahlee. If I close my eyes now, I can still recall the dull thud that my heart made as it landed the wooden floor of our bedroom. I can still recall my sister and I cracking jokes and giving knowing looks to each other and putting on half-smiles as we hugged our beaming mama. In retrospect, that was a pretty extravagant gift from my parents. It was a beautiful, practical gift for two girls about to become teenagers. This is how I attempt to atone myself now. Yes, we wouldn’t get our first cell shared cell phone (yes, a 5110), until I was in sophomore high school. But we started to learn using hair dryers in grade school.
But when your social life revolved around extra-curriculars in an all-girls school, you rarely need to show up with perfectly dry, straight locks. So unless it was a weekend, or a family party, that dryer stayed in our messy bureau. I went away for college, and brought that dryer. I started using it more frequently. My dormmates borrowed it all the time as well. Aside from drying their hair, it was used to service damp underwear, favorite tops, and even HUM2 projects. It finally gave up (exploded actually) sometime around 2008, while one of my housemate’s friends was being used to dry a couple of tennis balls. I never mourned its loss though. Although I do remember thinking, it could have lived on longer.
Back at home, and after I graduated, I used my mom’s big orange dryer – one that she’s had since she was a 20-something in Saudi. She hardly uses it herself, and that’s how it’s lasted so long, plus I suspect it was a model way more expensive than our local travel ones. But now my sister and I were working, going out to dinners, and borrowing Mama’s hair dryer all the time. She let us use it of course, and we figured, she wasn’t using it anyway. It bid us goodbye sometime last year. It just suddenly disappeared on our dresser, and it might have died on my Mama when she was actually the one plugging it in. We never talked about it, although I do remember thinking, that one lived a pretty long life.
So last summer my Papa bought Mama this new, very modern salon-grade model. I actually recognized it as the one Asian bloggers were always mentioning in their “what’s in my drawer” posts. Mama still keeps it in its box and I believe I’ve only seen her use it once. But it’s a really good dryer, and my days now are filled with events and awards and various social iterations that I offer up as excuses for coming home really late. So I “borrow” it. But she caught me using it two weeks ago when I forgot to return it in the box. She only told me off by saying that I should put it back properly when I use it. And after all these years, the Christmas day guilt sort of came back, two-fold; first, for not taking care of that little travel dryer as well as she’d taken care of her own ones, second, for taking and taking from her without ever asking or giving back. I didn’t know what to do, except that I realized, with urgency, that I needed to stop overusing one of the few things she has set aside for her own. So that’s how I ended up with my own pink foldable dryer with two settings.
It took me this long to learn a lesson, and as it turns out, I’m still not that good at drying my own hair either. Last week a few strands caught on the thing, and got stuck. Thing was still working but I freaked out because I could clearly see the broken, rough black strands wound around the fan. Today I traveled back and forth, from Marikina to The Fort, to Makati, to get it cleaned at an accredited service center. Because I can be very devoted to very unimportant things. 0930
"I defy you not to dance to this song."
All the love in the world, if merely coming from one, loyal, sweet well, will not be enough for you. You need infinite oceans. You need flowing rivers. You need rushing, deafening falls. You need torrents of rain. You need the universe, or what you worship as your universe (this superficial world of celebrity!) to tell you, in the most enormous, grandest gesture, what you could be and what you could be presented as to others. But in the overwhelming deluge, as you bob among the waves, you realize that there is no love, right? There is only the consuming awareness. But you prefer it. You crave it. Selfish but you can’t help it.