Saturday, August 3, 2013
My toes submerge in the warm, swirling water as I settle back in the nail salon chair. "Water okay?" says the woman who has settled me in. "Yes, it's just right" I say. It's busy on this Friday morning. I've only come days earlier in the week where there may be three women in the Pedi area and two in the Mani area. Today the salon is packed with stations all full. The very young woman who comes to do my toes looks barely over 18 and she is trying to find a squat stool that looks like it is meant for a small child than for women who hover over feet all day.
Her English is barely there but she is sweet and has a lovely smile that she shyly gives me when she needs to ask me a question. I seem to always have to ask her to repeat. "Sorry" or "Excuse me?" I ask. I read from a magazine, looking up every so often to put my feet where she directs me.
I scan the room. Across from me is a young little girl, maybe all of 6, having her nails done. The look of shear delight is on her face as she watches the woman paint her nails. I'm glad it is a pale color, maybe even clear, as seeing little girls in dark colors bothers me. You see, I hadn't start doing my nails till my nephew got married six years ago and I decided to give it a try at having a French mani-pedi for the event. It never was my thing this pampering. I felt it was a waste of money. Besides, I had horses, children and a dismal flower bed to keep alive and color on my nails seemed beyond silly. Yet those six years ago when I first did it I was surprised at how I actually enjoyed it.
The little child across from me brings my mom to mind. My mom who always had perfect nails, perfect hair, perfect attire and manners. I wonder if I would have gone with her if she had asked me to go have my nails done? Back in the 60's I don't remember ever little girls going to a salon for this. Then again how would I know? I was all for playing outside, in the dirt, up a tree, on a horse and that seemed like what grownup women did, not children.
My youngest daughter loved the pampering of a mani-pedi. My mom did take her and also gave gift certificates to the local salon so she could go have a spa day. She would come home with fancy nail styles that I would look at and wonder what might I be missing. Yet my mom and I never went to do this and I think, when I was full of being a mother I didn't give it a thought. She probably assumed I wouldn't do it anyway. I didn't wear makeup either but as well, my mom never taught me what makeup was all about. I experimented on my own in middle school and early High School but opted for the natural woman look which I still do. Freckles from all those years of riding my horse in the full sun, before the sunscreens we have now, which might have helped me as the mature woman I am now. Oh well. My mom seemed to forget that she had a daughter who might have been receptive to learning had she just figured out a way to share the art of being a woman.
Then again....maybe not. I was just past the era of the 60's Flower Power. I was a "wanna be" but was too young for "Free Love", Woodstock, Haight Ashbury. I could mimic the clothes and hair and listen to the music but beyond that I was just a young girl stuck in the home of a Southern belle at heart.
The young woman doing my nails hasn't yet asked me what color I want so I remind her and she flutters off the toad stool seat she is on and brings me back the ring filled with artificial nails of all the colors they offer. This is the part I can never decide on. The light is too dim and I know I'm going to get something too dark or with sparkles which I don't want. Then again it is like choosing a goodie bag when you don't know what might be inside. Surprise! I pick #74 and let her know. She has been massaging my feet and calves and for once I am enjoying this. Most times whoever is doing a mani is carelessly massaging or going too deep. Not this young woman. She makes me wish I could sit here for another hour, close my eyes and drift away into relaxation.
When the young woman has finished my nails and I look at them more clearly I laugh to myself when I see the color. Not quite what I thought #74 would look like. Last time I picked a deep shade of red but today it is the color of cotton candy pink to me. This is my summer guilty pleasure, when my toes are out of shoes and in sandals. This is when I can do something I use to think was silly and now can touch with my imagination the thought of what might have been had my mom and I been more of a mother / daughter. Then it can go deeper. I never once took my girls to have a mani-pedi. Nope. I never showed them how to use makeup (how could I?! I could barely do a makeup job for a wedding on myself!).
With my mom who is barely here with her illness, I keep seeing mother / daughters together and ponder what it means to me. Why do I seek this thought? What do I think I will obtain for my peace of mind if all I do is feel bittersweet when I see other mother / daughters?
I ask to sit under a lamp to make sure my toes are fully dry before I leave. A few minutes after I sit down another little girl with short bobbed hair moves to my direction. Her hands are splayed out as she approaches the table I am at. We are sitting opposite each other. I look at her, but not long, as I don't want her to think I'm some weirdo. What makes little girls want to play "spa" with their moms? Is it really what we should do at such tender ages? Maybe it is just the time of pretend for these little girls. I don't know but I'm suddenly feeling a longing for my daughters and what we can do together. Maybe not nails, but just being together. Just being in their presence reassures me of the love we have. But seeing this little girl also reminds me of how my girls are grown women and have full lives of their own and in that brief moment I'm longing for them to be this little girl, all full of lightness and smiles looking at her pretty nails as she sits under the lamp as her nails dry.