Put it in Neutral.

I had a breakthrough today.

Let me back up a little.  Over the years that I’ve lived in Phoenix I’ve been to several different nail salons.  Yes, I’m serious…stick with me.  Anyway, I usually stay with one pretty consistently when I find someone that does a decent job.  And, I like to feel like a regular even though I rarely feel like I get special treatment after what feels like a million visits.  (Except in Dallas.  They kept the free wine flowing.  I loved that shady spot.)  Also, who doesn’t HATE walking into a new nail salon, having every single pair of eyes stare up at you while you uncomfortably ask if you can get in for a mani/pedi and then get stuck with a random guy that has the hand pressure of a sleeping kitten?   If I can avoid that situation I definitely do.  I prefer to make an appointment.  On the fly, of course.  That’s how a true commitment phobe makes appointments.  We call when the mood strikes, usually on our way there, get on the books and then walk in as if it’s been in our empty planner for a month.  “Um, yeah, (barely looks up from phone), I have a 3:30 with Kim.” *smile and wait and pretend to continue checking super important emails, i.e. instagram*

I went to Emily for years.  I started seeing her before I even moved to Chicago and went back to her when I returned to Phoenix after being away two full years.  She always remembered me.  Not my name, but she knew me.  She always asked about “my friend” who also went there but then would refer to her by name a little later, so I don’t know if she was just playing games.  Probably.  She didn’t smile, ever.  And if she did, it was half-assed and totally forced.  She talked to me quite a bit, usually about herself, but I didn’t mind…I thought we were bonding.  She was also pretty feisty and wouldn’t shy away from talking shit about people.  I knew I didn’t want to be on her bad side, that’s for sure.

That’s probably where my fear of manicurists started.  I didn’t even look at anyone else when I was in there, and if she wasn’t available I actually would wait days until she was.  Or, I’d drive clear across town if it was an emergency, and hope she didn’t notice when I didn’t come in for over a month.  She was also super judgy.  “You’re not working today?”  “You have a boyfriend yet?”  “Have you been drinking?”  Whatever EMILY, can’t we just enjoy this hour?

I finally had enough.  Then I found Tai.  Got her as a walk in at a place a few miles away.  She had just moved there from another salon and was trying to rebuild her clientele.  She was so sweet, and I just adored her and wanted her to flourish in this new location since she didn’t have a chance to tell her old clients where she’d moved to.  (thinking back, she probably got fired and you’ll agree in about 15 seconds)  I saw her a few times times, but really didn’t love her work.  Great massages, but the paint jobs were pretty terrible.  One day, I called in, but was in such a hurry I forgot to make my spur of the moment appointment with her.  I saw her while my hands were in another’s.  I looked away immediately.  She walked by and I kept my head down hoping she wouldn’t recognize me.  OMG, she hit me.  She actually STRUCK me.  Like, totally backhanded my back!  I was in such shock I didn’t even move.  Never went there again.  Obvi.

Then came Jen.  This spot was far.  A good 40 minutes from my house.  But Ohhhhhh myyyyy gawwwwwd, the polish selection was insane!!  All of my faves and it was nice and open and almost inviting.  I liked Jen a lot.  I started seeing her pretty exclusively and was usually pretty happy with all of her work.  We talked about life, love, work, everything. She was a single mom, and I was just single.  It worked.

Several months ago, I was waiting for my appointment with Jen and when she came up, the girls at the front told her the wrong name.  So she called the lady next to me.  She looked a little confused, and I’m sure I did as well.  But something inside me said let it go.  I wasn’t going to interrupt and make a scene.  I let Linda take my appointment and as I walked by a bit later Jen gave me the worst look.  I couldn’t even explain that it wasn’t my fault.  It was too awkward.  I took the blame, even though my intentions were so good from the beginning.

My new girl sat down.  Name tag said Emily.  I had a brief moment of anxiety thinking of the last Emily, but it quickly passed.  New Emily was super cute and super sarcastic, but in a good way.  She made fun of my color choices (nude and nuder) but did it with a smile.  She rolled her eyes at me when I would try to justify how they were totally different and I don’t match my nails to toes, but then she would squeeze my hand and give it a little pat.  I loved her.  Immediately.  It was meant to be.  And, can I tell you, her manicures last THREE WEEKS.  Unheard of.  I think it’s because of my color choice (OPI —> see this blog title for shade name) but I also think she has a magic no chip touch.

Worth. The. Drive.

I went in today.  3 weeks after my last appointment.  We were laughing and catching up and while I was mid-head tossed back cackle, Jen walked by.  She did a double take.  Instead of looking away, I smiled at her.   In an instant I felt like we had a conversation with just that brief connection.  She knew I wished her well, and I think she saw how happy I was.  I felt good about it.

My breakthrough?  Owning up to my happiness in that moment.  Im over worrying about what other people think I should be doing and who I should be doing it with.  We’re allowed to make our own choices.  Sometimes something bigger takes over and we just roll with it, if we want too.  That’s kind of the fun part.





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