Both my nails and my soul needed it.
I was supposed to go see my friend Daniell last weekend, before the skies opened up and muddy, traumatized Warrior racers started showing up at my house and calling me to come get them. I was in the midst of driving a group of nine muddy refugees back to my house when I got a callback from my friend.
"Um. I think I need to reschedule," I told her.
She didn't get mad. She got an afternoon off. I was the one who had to go through a whole week with chipped nail polish and without a clean towel in my house. Which was probably a good thing since I chipped three nails trying to catch Mardi Gras beads all week.
The towel thing is another story.
She just laughed at me, especially once she read the whole story here on this blog.
"Well, you had to rescue people," she told me later. "You had no choice. What were you going to say? 'Sorry. No. I can't come rescue you. I have to go get my nails done.' "
She gets me.
I'm not sure how the local nail technician became one of my best friends. Leery of my fellow gender, I don't have many close female friends to begin with. But I'm always open to worthy applicants.
I found Daniell (no e), literally around the corner from me when a local woman revamped an old building into a wonderful little hair salon, aptly named, "Serenity."
Excited to see the new sign one day, I pulled my car up outside the freshly painted shop and dialed the number on my cell phone to make a hair appointment. Not long after opening, they added a nail salon.
I had been looking for a new one. It's not that I didn't like the local Vietnamese group. They are quick, efficient and do a very nice job with the French. I'm not one for claws and fancy stuff, but having a nice manicure, for some reason, does wonders for a girl's self-esteem. It makes even picking your nose look pretty.
But it's a little disconcerting to sit for an hour or more holding hands with a woman who barely speaks to you while watching The Bold and the Beautiful or The Price is Right on the TV.
Daniell is so different.
Her little room in the back of Serenity is, well, very serene. Very Zen like. There is music playing softly. And no TV.
That's so we can talk. In English. For hours.
My husband used to wave me good-bye when I left and say, "See you in two hours."
Very funny. Sometimes it's more.
When I walk into the door of Serenity, everyone knows my name. It's like my very own "Cheers."
And over time, my time at this little salon has become my girlfriend time. My "me" time. A much-needed time to sit with a someone I genuinely like and talk and giggle and belly laugh and vent and tell secrets and share stories.
And, over time, we have come to genuinely like each other.
While Daniell polishes ("paint is for walls") my nails in neutral colors with wacky names like "Sand in My Suit" and "Skinny Dipping in Lake Michigan," and chastises me for using my "jewels" as tools, we have shared the days of our lives.
And because we only see each other about every two weeks (with occasional texts in between), we always have lots to talk about.
We talk about our children, our families, our husbands and our mothers. She finally knows all of the characters in my life.
And now that my mother also is one of her clients, I don't have to explain nearly as much.
We talk about American Idol, and how much we're enjoying the new judges this season.
Today we talked about mammograms. And Mardi Gras and my Birth-Di-Gras, which she had to miss.
Daniell likes to call me her "famous" client because I write for the newspaper and, in my old life, my picture used to appear in every Sunday's community section.
And she still likes me now that I'm a receptionist. And even now that her son is on my husband's baseball team. And my husband's ex wife is her daughter's kindergarten teacher.
We still talk about our husbands. And yes, we complain sometimes.
Like, we can't understand why they won't rub our feet or our necks or our backs because their hands hurt, but they'll sure rub the parts they like with no problem.
Daniell will rub my feet.
It took me the longest time to request a pedicure from her because I felt guilty asking someone I consider to be my friend to rub my feet.
"That's my husband's job," I told her. "Not yours."
But she does it so well.
And I really need her to take care of my feet, now that I can't really get down there as well as I used to. She is a little younger than me.
Daniell is about to expand her business a bit, move into a bigger room connected to Serenity. She plans to call it Bliss.
I think it's a perfect name.
Whenever I leave I'm always relaxed and happy, with a rejuvenated soul.
And if I can get my keys out of my purse without messing them up, perfect nails.