Yesterday, my friend John died. I’ve known John for at least fifteen years. He was my hair guy, but he was also a great friend and in the tradition of barbers and hair stylists, he was someone with a wide-open heart, wide-open arms, and ears always ready to listen. John was featured in the 7/11/17 Today’s Moment Of Happiness Despite The News. You can see it in the book, but I am putting it back up here, in his honor and memory and with great love. I already miss you, John.
And so today’s moment of happiness despite the news.
I know that many people believe, thanks to Charles Schulz, that happiness is a warm puppy. I do love puppies. But happiness to me today, and pretty much any day, is a hot hairdryer.
I honestly don’t remember how old I was the first time I sat under a salon hairdryer. Comfortable chair. Big bucket over my head. Hot air blasting out of it onto my hair, down my neck, onto my shoulders. White noise that blocked out everything else in the room. I do know that I fell in love that day.
It probably helps to know that I was a child who sat on heat registers too, with my shirt belled over it, so that the heat surrounded me. I drive my convertible with the heated seats on. In my currently air-conditioned house, I use a space heater on my desk, and I often sit under a heated throw.
I kinda like heat.
Today, in the middle of all that’s been messy lately, I went for my standing hair appointment at Foxies Salon in Waukesha. I started going there when Olivia was in kindergarten – she’s going to be a junior in high school now. So it’s been a while. John, my hair guy, is the person responsible for the red spiky hair that I’m recognized for now. At first, when I had my hair cut short and kept it brown, he would spike it for fun before I left the salon. I’d smile, then go home and wash the gel out, and return me to my flat-haired, brown-haired existence.
But something happened when Olivia was five and I was forty-five. Not only did I let the spikes stay, but I told John to turn it red. And boy, did he.
Somehow, from that, I emerged.
And John, bless him, figured out very quickly that no matter what the weather, the season, the temperatures, or my current state of affairs, it was absolutely necessary to turn the dryer on high, lower it over my face, and leave me sitting there.
Today, he added further gentleness. I think, in his quiet way, he knew I needed it.
He turned the hairdryer on ahead of time. It was already hot when it reached my scalp. He turned the chair just so, so I could reach my iced latte, sitting on his covered sink. He handed me my book. And I’m pretty sure he cranked the timer to extra minutes.
For that little bit, I was in an inner sanctum. There was heat. There was coffee. There was a good book.
There wasn’t any cancer. There was just me.
I can’t explain why sitting under a hairdryer means so much. There’s just such comfort there. The noise that isn’t a noise blocking out the rest of the world. The heat. No one and no thing can reach me when I’m in there.
Though one thing did reach me. Kindness.
And yes, that helps. Despite. Anyway.