I am not a girly girl. I don’t wear make-up. I like jewelry, but I don’t wear a lot of it any more. I don’t spend a huge amount of time getting ready each morning or doing my hair. I don’t like wearing fancy clothes or high heels. When I moved to Virginia and stopped working as a lawyer, the thought that I wouldn’t have to wear business clothes any longer filled me with almost unspeakable joy. No hose … no heels … no jackets … no suits. Just t-shirts, jeans, and tennie-scooters each and every day. This is what I promised myself, and I’ve done my best to keep my word. After all, if I can’t believe myself, who can I believe?
But I do love nail polish and “doing” my nails. It’s the one girly indulgence that fills me with giddy joy. I love heading to my local Ulta, where I can spend hours browsing through all the available brands and colors. I love going on safari in the wilds of the Interwebs in search of fun nail blogs, where creative bloggers swatch and review different nail polish brands and colors. I can hardly find time to write entries for this blog and still manage a bit of work on my in-progress book, but, if I did have the time, you can bet I would be out there, swatching and reviewing and squealing about my favorite finds. Like today, for instance … Today, I found a polish that’s almost identical to the color of my car. Even just typing this out loud makes me want to giggle in giddy happiness. I know it’s strange. Perhaps it’s something only another nail-obsessed person would understand.
I always did my nails when I was younger. I started when I was in about the seventh or eighth grade, although my mother was very strict about what colors I could wear. She considered certain colors immodest and improper, so I always had to ask permission and get her approval before trying a new color. Back then, there wasn’t a lot of money for extras, so I had to make myself happy with just one or two bottles. As I got older, I branched out more with regard to color. And, once I had my own disposable income, I discovered nicer brands, which quickly became my favorites. In general, I stayed pretty conservative with regard to color. A deep red or hot pink was about the zaniest thing I would try, and, even then, I couldn’t wear reds or hot pinks to work. I was working as a lawyer, and it was considered bad form to wear crazy nail polish colors. Now, people probably could get away with it, but, remember, this was about twenty years ago. (Geez … typing that made me feel old and decrepit.)
Once I had my daughter, I stopped doing my nails. It was a struggle learning how to be a mom, and I didn’t have the time or the energy to spend on pampering myself. This is what I told myself at the time. The truth is, even then, I was sliding into depression. Once my daughter got a bit older, I had the time for nails again, but I never went back to my old habits. By then, I was trapped in the dark cycle of depression, and I just didn’t care. I didn’t care about much of anything, so my nails really never entered my mind. Sometimes, I would miss how happy those bright colors had made me, but I shrugged it off and told myself it wasn’t for me. Not any more. Depression is like that; it makes you feel like you don’t deserve anything that might make you happy.
About four months ago, I found myself browsing the internet — randomly, as I do … mostly in search of funny cat pictures. I can be honest about this. I firmly believe the internet was built for the sole purpose of displaying and sharing funny cat pictures. If there were no cat pictures, the universe would crumble. I just know it. Anyhow, in my wanderings, I encountered my first nail blog. It was wonderful! So many colors. And designs. And the photos were gorgeous. I ended up hopping from one blog to another for the next several hours and, at the end of it all, I realized something: I wanted to do my nails again. And so I did.
So far, I haven’t looked back. I’ve been indulging in the kind of crazy colors I always wanted to wear, but never had the hutzpah to try. Yellow! Bright green! Purple! Sparkly! Metallic! Bronze! Gold! Any shade of blue! Black! Oh, how I love black nail polish. It’s not just for punk rockers, you know. Middle-aged mommies like it, too. I managed to reconnect with my favorite brand, feeling comforted when it welcomed me back like an old, long-lost friend. And I’ve made some new friends along the way. There are so many more brands of polish out there now. It’s been a pretty fun adventure so far.
Sometimes I wonder why I go all giddy-gaga over nail polish. Why do I feel compelled to dab little glops of color onto my fingernails? It seems silly, really, when you think about it in the abstract. But the thing is … This is one of the very few things I do just for “me”. I don’t get anything out of polishing my nails. It doesn’t advance some life goal; it won’t earn me more money or make me more successful. It’s a time spent just for myself, quietly enjoying a list of favorite songs or a movie or TV show while waiting for my nails to dry. It’s a rare time when my family knows to leave me alone. They have to fend for themselves when mama’s nails are wet! And you know what? They manage to survive, just fine.
Perhaps it is silly. Perhaps it doesn’t make any sense at all. But it makes me happy. And that’s enough.