Submitted by: Robin Dake
At one time, I kept red polish on my toes – bright red, happy red. I had tried other colors, but kept coming back to red.
At one time, I sparkled.
But somehow, in this last year, as my 18-year marriage crumbled, cleaved, then ended, I lost my sparkle and I stopped painting my toes.
At first, it was just putting off the repair. I noticed a few chips on the edges and thought, ‘I need to fix that, ‘but never got to it. The chips got bigger and my toes now needed a full-out re-do. They needed to be stripped down to bareness, filed smooth, then lovingly repainted.
By summer, the nails themselves were raggedy, but I didn’t have the energy to lift an emery board, much less gather the polish remover, lotion and cotton balls.
In yoga class – the class I joined to learn to breathe in the year there was no breath – my chipped and sad toes mocked me. They shouted that I must be a failure because I couldn’t even keep my toes neat and presentable. I couldn’t hear it then, but there was another voice speaking softly, saying, ‘it’s okay, love your raggedy toes now and know you will be okay.’
As the months went by that voice did get louder and I was able to accept that I was a girl whose toes were no longer painted red. I could do downward dog without trying to avert my eyes from my toes and I soon found myself looking at polish colors in the drugstore aisle.
In October, I unearthed the toenail clipper and neatened things up. I stripped away the last of the red and left it at that. I wore patent leather shoes to court that day, but underneath the shine, my toes remained unfiled and naked.
The cold that came in during the last part of November made me keep socks on my feet almost all the time. They were thick, fleece socks – blue with polka dots – that muffled the cold snaking around my toes. I only caught a glimpse of them as I showered and dressed before I sought out that fleecy warmth and protection again.
A friend gave me perfumed lotion for Christmas, and after a moment of listening to the inner voice that loves me, I slather it on my feet and ankles, enjoying the luxury and softness. And finally, I dug out the polish. I gently filed and smoothed those nails, then put that polish on stroke by stroke. My toes wiggled with contentment.
The polish is not fire engine red, but instead a soft, pearled pink. It doesn’t sparkle, but it does glow. Today, I breathe again.
I may not make it to back to fire engine red, but I suspect one day, I may just try purple.
Author Bio: Robin Dake is a writer and photographer living in North Georgia. She holds a journalism degree from the University