She’d felt warm and inviting at first
Then the interaction felt questionable
“Don’t think. Just feel,” I said to myself
Everyone has a need to be touched, but I don’t like to admit mine. A massage might be perfect for now, but because it involves a stranger’s touch, they’re not pleasant experiences for me. For me to give a massage is another story. My discovery of pedicures and manicures probably came later in life than some, but several years ago, that’s what I felt safe turning to. To keep it interesting, I always go to different places, and that’s where I met her. Two employees were working on her, the only two employees working that day.
She was the only customer, and since I found that an unusual fact given the size of the salon and the time of my arrival, I stayed to learn why. The customer made a point to turn around and tell me my dress was a compliment to the beautiful day, so I thanked her and sat down to wait my turn. While waiting, she looked back at me again to ask what my work was.
Looking at her with more focus, I noticed how colorfully detailed her outfit was and that it coordinated with a great many elaborate accessories. She appeared to be in her seventies, and her face reminded me of Tammy Faye Messner (formerly Bakker). I’d never seen that much makeup on anyone, and for a second her face rendered me speechless.
Working to move the conversation back to her, I learned she was in real estate and preparing to launch a business. It was aimed at empowering women to level up and feel good about themselves from the outside in. I did confirm to have heard correctly. She didn’t explain why she was taking a backasswards approach, and I didn’t ask. She did explain that she was working on feeling better about herself first and that it’s been a challenge. Simultaneously she’s in the process of writing a book because her literary agent told her she can’t launch a business until publishing one first. Her current goal is to complete two chapters a month with a deadline of September.
She swung the convo ball back to me. Since most folks don’t ask me personal questions directly, I forgot to respond with filters and soon remembered why I don’t go out. My answers aren’t off the wall, but sometimes they’re unexpected, and because of that, people typically respond from one of two places; discomfort or discomfort. Dropping intense honesty into a casual discussion is the place where people usually assume I’m legit retarded.
When her nails were done, she sat next to me as I was getting mine done. She said I wasn’t ready to be exposed to the world and asked if I believed in God. Internally I thought, “What the fuck does that mean? Nice. She put me in the retarded category.” For the next thirty minutes, she proceeded to talk about specific losses she’d had in life, not related to our prior discussion. Before leaving, she asked for my name and number, then gave me hers and the name of her church. She suggested I go because I could find protection in God, then she told me to call her anytime.
In my head I asked, “God, why did you make me a covert alien again?”
I moved into thinking about her words, because at face value, I found them somewhat condescending. Then I remembered my words sometimes cause discomfort. Redirecting my thoughts to a physical voice guides me to correct perception in the intention of the speaker, otherwise, using words alone, I tend to get the wrong message. With words, I was leaning towards calling her an asshole, but with her voice, it was clear her intentions were loving.
Hugging me before she left and without time to catch my breath from that interaction, one of the two women working on me began sharing family and friend stories with me. She shared stories of her children, friendships, marriage, a devastating loss of both parents, and more as I just listened.
This was the most intense nail salon I’d ever been to, and I almost feel like if I go back again, the building won’t be there. There’s so much more they shared than is written here, things that strangers aren’t ‘supposed’ to share. Maybe I opened the door for them to ‘go there’ or perhaps the door was opened for all of us as a reminder that we are indeed more alike than different. Maybe I’m on another late train and this is how it always goes for some. I don’t know but it was sorta magical to me regardless, cause the sound of voices attached to stories lets everyone share a portion of the treasure we keep hidden beneath our covers.
Our lives are a healing message someone needs to hear.
Love surely makes its way to everyone, uniquely touching us all.