For thirty-five years I pretended my hair was straight. I tried every different product to fight against what nature gave me. Anti-frizz serums, straightening lotions, humidity resistance sprays… you name it. If it claimed to create fake straight, I bought it. I also had to have a professional hair dryer (don’t get me started about the day the fuse blew in my Super Solano), the perfect flat iron, and even multiple curling irons in tow when I traveled. And I am talking about trips to the Caribbean. The tropics! It was madness. Shaun would ask that I leave them behind, reminding me that I used them maybe once each time we stayed on an island. But without fail, I would load them up hoping to stay under my fifty pound carry on limit. Professional styling tools are not light, by the way.
A couple of weeks ago we moved to St John USVI to live out a dream of ours. I’d love to say that I just gave away my tools and products, threw caution to the wind (and the humidity) and came without any of it. Unfortunately, it really takes getting to your island and becoming a resident to come to terms with the fact that you can’t fight nature. And it’s so incredibly hot right now. The thought of a heated tool is too much to bear. But I would be lying if I said I didn’t get a plan before we came. Hey, I may have given up a great job, our home, and our life as we knew it, but I am a planner at the end of the day.
About a month before we moved I ventured in to Sephora to get my attack plan. My friend Nicole told me about the DevaCurl line, so I started there. As it turns out, I didn’t have to look any further. I bought the three basic products to get started- No Poo Zero Lather Conditioning Cleanser, One Condition Creamy Conditioner, and Light Defining Gel. Since Shaun was having LASIK surgery that Friday and we were stuck at home, I spent some time watching YouTube videos with tutorials on proper techniques.
Before long, I was back at Sephora. I needed the special DevaCurl microfiber towel. Apparently the cotton in regular bath towels creates frizz (much like the lather in regular shampoos). Also I needed the clips to give me some lift at the root. Next, I went on a search for a satin pillowcase, because normal sheets create frizz too. Who knew!? I couldn’t locate satin pillowcases anywhere I shopped, so Shaun was nice enough to assist in the hunt. He found one at Walmart- I do not go in there- and it was $4. Perfect. Well, almost perfect. It was red. I hate red. I gave it a shot though. It ended up bleeding a little unto our cream colored fabric headboard and ruining our sheets. Oh well. At least my hair didn’t frizz. Ultimately I found the satin pillowcase of my dreams at Sally Beauty Supply. It was just a little more but it doesn’t look like a murder scene on our bed.
Between the new products I’m using and the fact that I live on an island where people don’t care, I am in business! Today I went to the laudromat with the clips in my hair, since you can’t remove them until your hair is dry. No one seemed to care (or notice) at all. Since there’s no real time commitment involved and really no styling at all, I feel free to jump right in and get my hair wet in the ocean, whereas before I would try to avoid getting it wet because of the effort I had put into making it look good. And guess what? Most people are telling me they really like my hair and some ladies with straight hair say they wish they had wild curls!
So, the fact that I always wanted straight hair has me thinking. We always seem to want what we don’t have. It’s a sad part of being human. Something changed in me when I moved to St John though. And it was so much bigger than the texture of my hair. I immediately appreciated all I have while at the same time realizing that things don’t matter. Not even a little bit. Our health and happiness are what give me pause each and every day. I’m appreciating more of what life has to offer.
I’m attending church outside with the waves gently crashing as we sing hymns acoustically to the music of two soft guitars. I’m swimming with the fish and the turtles and all of God’s creatures who live in this beautiful turquoise water that surrounds me. And while I swim and workout and meet new friends I am consistently reminded of what really matters. It’s not my clothes, my car, my house, or my job. And it most certainly isn’t my hair.
Ashley Cates, St. John USVI blogger.