Thursday, May 03, 2007

A new experience for me today

After a disastrous bout with some rather old and sticky nail polish, I realized that my feet were in terrible shape and that I desperately needed a pedicure. After school today I headed for Sherman to seek out said services and found a great place in the mall. As is so often my experience, nail salons seem to be the purview of a Vietnamese family, and this one was no different. The mom was the one who worked on my toesies and feetsies and legsies (I love the sea-salt scrub they do on the legs... wow) and she and I chatted quite a lot. While she was working on my feet, I started noticing how pathetic my hands were looking. I haven't bitten my nails for a really long time now, but my fingernails have always been paper-thin. Now that I'm older, they've gotten brittle, too. They break off and leave ragged, short edges that are rather ugly.

Since I'm a pianist, I've never spent much time beautifying my nails or growing them long. My hands are purely practical and don't need to waste time being beautiful. But today they looked especially sad.

Vietnamese Mom offered to do a manicure on me as well, with a price break since I was already getting the deluxe pedicure. I took her up on it and sat down at the table. I've always been a bit curious about artificial nails, but since playing the piano and blogging have been the primary occupation of my fingers, I haven't wanted to get the long claw-like fake fingernails. But I asked her if the artificial nails could be made short, and she said, "Of course. Any length you like. You play the piano? I make them short but still very nice-looking." I had only thought to have my hands massaged and my nails buffed, but the price break was tempting and I was really enjoying my chat with her.

Come to find out, she was a college graduate from a Vietnamese college and had been a teacher. I had just felt in my bones that she hadn't always been a humble nail tech. I told her that I knew we must have something in common. She smiled warmly.

She and her family have lived in the US for twelve years. For 12 years, she has left behind her education, her status, her culture, everything -- just to partake in the freedom that the US offers. She was willing to take on the form of a lowly servant simply to live here. She and her family had assimilated into US culture while retaining their own identities. This is what the American Dream ought to look like. What a sacrifice this woman made, just to come here and exfoliate people's feet.

I will return to her family's shop and hopefully will continue having a conversation with her.

At any rate, today was a new experience for me. I now have ten lovely nails for the first time in my entire life:

They're not Elvira-ish claws; I think they're rather tasteful, especially for me. My small, square little paws just wouldn't look right with long, fancy French tips or diamonds or such anyway.

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