But What About Your Hair?

As a U.S. expat residing in Deutschland for over five years, I have devoted a respectable amount of time fine-tuning my practices as it relates to any and all State-side visits. Each trip home is a wonder in itself, painstakingly planned via a series of phone calls, emails and internet searches, ending in a calendarized agenda of the must-do activities taking place immediately upon arrival. This process provides great comfort to me in the days leading up to departure but for V, like his own living nightmare, although one in which he tolerates due to fears of the drama to ensue should he choose to deviate from its course.

The man knows me well and treads ever so lightly when America comes calling.

Today’s post finds me fresh off of one such trek, a Washington DC bound journey in which I indulged in family and friends, arriving back in Deutschland with both a happy heart and a very, very heavy suitcase.

I pack light when I go to the States - as I suspect many an expat does - ensuring ample room for a smattering of home’s “most favorite things.” For many I believe, those comforts come by way of food, fashion and/or pharmaceuticals, and while I also relish in having such things accompany me back, I choose to allocate a good 1/3 of my suitcase to an amazing, sorta, something that brings great joy to my life and a supreme peace in our home...

They are known as haircare products. 

Early 2010

Upon commitment of my move with V to Germany, I was excited to inform those nearest and dearest that big and bold things were coming my way. One of the first to join in the excitement was my girl Sunchip - a close friend with whom I shared many a long hour at work, the ups and downs of our often complicated personal lives and copious amounts of Proseco while engaged in animated discussion regarding the previous two points. Upon exclaiming her love of me, V and the new life we would create, a look of profound concern crossed her face and upon exhaling a clearly troubled breath she whispered, "But what about your hair?"

My Happy Afro.

My Happy Afro.

"My…oh God," I heavily sighed, as I felt the full effect of her words take hold, leaving me dizzy with panic as ghastly images of my afro in full-blown "German duress" played out in my mind.  Clearly I was love sick, as it hardly escaped notice that it took my very blonde and big-blued eyed friend to call attention to the likely derailment of my afro once I found myself in Deutschland without access to black-people-with-afros-haircare-products.  How I tossed and turned each night in the months leading up to my departure, playing out the various hair scenarios and looking to some how piece together my access plan to product. Was this what addiction looked like, I asked myself?

In preparing to expatriate to Deutschland, my initial haircare shopping spree was extensive, lugging one large case filled to the brim with enough shampoos, cremes and gels to open up my own on-line shop. As the months rolled by and my shampoo fountain started to run dry, I began the process of importing my products; a tiresome exercise requiring a half-hour trip to dole out import taxes and thus ensuring Deutschland's financial share of my oh-so obsessive ways. Following a series of back-to- back pick-ups and payments, the last of which included a 32 ounce bottle of the latest and greatest super-deluxe conditioner, V turned to me and boldly announced, "Last time. There are other black people in Germany. They have figured it out - now it's your turn."

How I cursed his very name.

And so it was that I began my canvasing of Köln, intent on finding all the answers to my on-going afro anxieties. And while I ultimately found the "black-people-products- emporium" that saved my life and perhaps my marriage, I still welcome those junkets home to fill up on family and of course - my products.