Toenail Therapy

My friend Miv wrote this wonderful piece, inspired by one of our recent, impromptu, just-in-time meet-ups, the kind where I spontaneously call her walking from the bus stop to my house and we’re both having a rough morning and she says, “What are you doing right now?” and I say, “Heading home. Want to come over?” And she does, leaves work early, and I make us sandwiches and we sit and talk in my kitchen, and then she gets this slightly mischievous look on her face and says, “What are you doing the rest of the day?” And I see that twinkle in her eye and wonder what she has in mind, and that’s when she springs the question. “Want to get a pedicure?”

I was going to have a few guest bloggers here during my week-long vacation. Then I changed my mind, thinking it would be confusing after my declaration of an indefinite blog hiatus to have some brand new posts appear, no less ones by other people. It was the first time I had ever “scheduled” things to be published in advance, and in my haste getting ready to leave town, I forgot to “unschedule” them. So you could say I was surprised when a new post appeared yesterday. My blog is writing itself! I thought. I should’ve figured this out years ago! And then I remembered. Miv. Toenails. Oy. When we got back to our rental house, I logged on to my mom’s computer and unpublished it.

Then today, right in the middle of a whale watch off of P-town, the post appeared again, rather inexplicably this time, from a technological perspective at least. Miv herself is a warrior or sorts, and clearly, her writing takes after her and wasn’t going to settle for being a mere “draft.” Post-Cape, I’ll revert to our previously scheduled end-of-the-blog. But for this week, without further fanfare, I give you Miv London.

**

You’ve had days like this. Days when your heart is a heavy stone tossed about amidst the turbulence of your guts, and your tortured mind is twisting itself into an impenetrable tangle of knots. Days when talk therapy will only lead you hopelessly round and round the tired paths of your complicated inner maze; medication will only lay a brief and thin layer of numbness over the pain; retail therapy will only provide momentary relief before the weight of the bags of expensive cosmetics in your hands is outstripped by the weight of your conscience and your credit card statement.

On a day like today, only one thing will do. Toenail therapy.

As you step into the pristine, air-conditioned nail salon, your mood immediately begins to lighten. You approach the wall of nail polishes, and the dazzling array of bright, tiny bottles transports you into a world of living color, like Dorothy stepping out of her black-and-white farm house into the vibrant atmosphere of Oz. Even the worst of the doldrums can’t hold up for long against the vivid allure of Fuchsia Fantasy, Ripe Cherry, or Scarlet Seduction.

Next you are escorted to a massage chair, and invited to dip your feet in a tub of warm soapy water. Now the cracks in your armor of misery begin to widen, and slowly but surely bliss begins to seep in. The tireless hands of the massage chair rhythmically kneed your aching shoulders and back, as the warm water coaxes your skin to soften and your muscles to unwind. The pretty young Asian woman silently ministers to your feet while your mind drifts aimlessly along the gentle currents of comfort. Slowly, the kinks in your head and heart begin to loosen.

Twenty five minutes later, your feet have been cleaned and buffed, your toes clipped, filed and polished, and something inside you has shifted. The heaviness in your heart has lightened considerably, though your pocketbook has only lightened by thirty dollars, including tip. As you step outside into the rest of your day, the afternoon sunlight glints off your shiny, colorful toes, its radiance offering hope for a better tomorrow.

Guest Blogger Miv London is a psychologist at the University of Vermont Counseling Center, coordinator of the UVM Mindfulness Practice Center, mom, meditator, knitter, yogi,  gardener, musician and myriad miscellaneous identities.  She lives in South Burlington, Vermont with her daughter Rose, and two cats.

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