One of my favorite indulgences that I’ve had to forgo most of this year has been my manicure/pedicure habit.  I know some people love to get a massage or facial, but for me, there is nothing quite like a mani/pedi to make me feel relaxed and happy, especially if I’m fortunate enough to go with my girlfriends.

Back in my corporate days, I had acrylic nails.  This was partly because a lot of the women I worked with had them so after a while I wanted them too, but it was also because my skin is allergic to nearly every fragrance mix in soaps or detergents that’s out there, and at that point I hadn’t yet figured out exactly what was making me itch.  My real nails are very sharp, and I would scratch myself so intensely in my sleep that if I didn’t wear socks over my hands when I slept, I’d wake up with bloody marks on my skin and the sheets.  Acrylic nails are super thick and dull-edged and can’t really do any damage, so while I was sussing out my allergy triggers (answer: everything), having fake nails did a good job of protecting me from myself.

To maintain them, I’d have to go to the nail salon every two to three weeks to get them “filled” – a time consuming and expensive habit. I used to actually get sick of having to go to the salon so much, even though it had once been one of my favorite treats.  After I finally got rid of my acrylics, I started to enjoy getting my nails done again, and would go once a month when I was working full time and had a nice steady income.

But in this year of cutting back, I’ve been doing my nails at home to save money, and I’ve even gone polish-free most of the year to give my nails a chance to get healthy again.  I think I’ve had maybe two pedicures and one manicure in all of 2013.  I’ve really missed that little luxury, and wished many times that I could afford to go back to the salon.

A couple months ago, I met with my friend Jane, who is an actress I’ve done stage work with.  She is hoping to break into the world of voice over, so I went over to her house to help her figure out the best place to record and give her the 411 on what I know about the business.  Because Jane is awesome and generous, she sent me a gift certificate for a mani/pedi as a thank you for my time.  I was beyond excited, and pinned the certificate reverently to the bulletin board in my office.

Knowing how much I’ve wanted this indulgence, you might think I’d have run out the very next day and used it.  But I didn’t.  I knew it might be months before I would be able to go for another one, so I decided to make this one count.  I carefully planned to use it during a time when I wouldn’t have any auditions that would require me to have bare nails, so I could make the manicure last as long as possible.  I picked a day I wouldn’t be stressed and overbooked and might smudge my fresh polish while rushing to get to my next appointment.  I thought for a ridiculously long time about what color would go with most of my wardrobe so I’d get the most bang for my buck.  I dreamed and planned and pined and thought about it with the same excitement I’ve had when saving up for a big purchase, or planning a really great vacation.

And focusing all that thought, attention, and care on it made something that I had once totally taken for granted feel incredibly special and exciting again.

That has definitely been an unexpected side effect of this lagom project – the benefit of remembering what it’s like to wait for things.  I am an impatient person by nature, so I’m not saying I suddenly love waiting – it still bugs me.  But I have gotten so used to immediate gratification (mostly by spending money I didn’t really have) that it took me doing this exercise to realize that things that were once been a big deal had become mundane to me by their accessibility.

I finally had my appointment yesterday – two days before Christmas, when all logic should tell you that it’s unwise to venture out of your house unless it’s absolutely necessary.  But a variety of factors made it the best time for me to go, so I decided to brave it, and the day did not disappoint.  I found parking across the street from the salon, in one of the busiest neighborhoods in Portland, even during non-holiday times.  My manicurist told me that the previous three days had been chaos, but I had fortuitously arrived in a small pocket of unexpected quiet – I was one of four customers in the whole salon.  Because the staff wasn’t busy, I had one person working on my pedicure and one on my manicure at the same time, and when the lady working on my nails finished before my pedicure was done, she said, “you look like you could use a shoulder massage” and proceeded to massage my neck and shoulders while the other manicurist finished working on my toes.  The gift certificate Jane gave me totally covered the cost of the mani/pedi plus a nice tip (LOVE that), but then they also gave me a $5 gift certificate before I left since it was my first visit to the salon.  It had been raining when I arrived, and I was dreading sloshing back to my car in my flip flops, but when I walked outside the sun had come out for the first time that day.  I made it home without any nicks or smudges in my polish, and I can’t stop admiring how nice my nails look right now.  I may have had to wait, but it was totally worth it.

Thank you, Jane for the lovely gift – you couldn’t have done better.

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Me & Jane in “The Trip To Bountiful”

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