Simple. Like This.

simple like thisIt came to be the time when the nail tech bluntly states, “Wash you hand.” This brings me to the sink at the back of the nail salon, scrubbing away intently as a good client should, drying my hands, and the requisite journey along the same path I took to the sink to begin with.

The pedicure chairs are on the right side of the salon on my return trip. I notice an elderly woman in one of the chairs. And then I noticed that, from the knees down, both of her legs were nearly entirely black — a stark contrast to a life thoroughly and most obviously lived as a caucasian.

I didn’t want to stare, but it’s difficult when you see something that’s such a contrast to the definition of “normal.” Her calves were barely bigger than the circumference of her bones. I returned to my seat and went about the remainder of my nail appointment, the sweet thought that this woman, however old and with whatever ailment that rendered her legs to their current state, was for damn sure getting a pedicure.

Maybe ten minutes later, a nail tech appeared from the back of the salon and approached an elderly man whom I’d barely noticed who was sitting at the front of the salon. She squeaked an, “OK, she ready now,” and the man worked himself up out of his seat. He made his way to the back of the salon and positioned himself next to the elderly woman. With a practiced grace that’s rare to witness, he bent down and laced an arm beneath her knees and another underneath her arms. He then lifted her up as if she were made of air, a whisper of decades all bundled up for transport, and walked her over to the drying station. He set her down, gently positioned her legs, and then sat himself down on the opposite side. All of this was done without a word spoken between them, tied in a bow as he grabbed a pulp pop culture magazine and began to flip through.

There was a part of me that yearned to lean over and say hello but the lump in my throat made me think twice. It occurred to me that this wasn’t my story, one I wasn’t meant to be a part of. I didn’t need to know their names or details though my curiosity simply wanted to ask how they’d met and how long ago that had been. I went through the machinations of my own appointment, my mind lost in lavish scenarios about their love and the rings I noticed that each wore on the finger of import on their respective left hands.

After ten minutes of my daydreaming and an equal ten minutes of their drying time, the nail technician came over and put the woman’s socks and shoes on with care so rare I wanted to capture it like a lightening bug in a mason jar. The elderly woman paid and her husband asked, “You good?”

To which a simple, firm reply came: Yes.

The magazine found its way back to the haphazard stacks atop the drying station. He walked around to where his wife sat and with the same practiced grace, he repeated his move.

One arm under her knees.

The other under her arms.

Upsie daisy.

The nail tech met them at the front door and they floated into the Colorado clear blue skies.

And there I sat, wondering how many moments like this I’ve missed because — well, not because I wasn’t looking. But rather because I get wrapped up in my ever so important day-to-day that beauty escapes me.

It was something so simple, this near-choreographed triad of tenderness I’d been lucky enough to witness.

And for the rest of yesterday (and even into today), all I can think is: It really is this simple — this thing about being human.

And I wonder why we do our best each day to make it so damn hard.

***This is for a beautiful lady named Jackie and her mom, Mozelle. While not the subjects of this post, they’re both responsible for some of the most beautiful stories I’ve ever heard.

36 comments
CuriousMarie
CuriousMarie

I'm wiping tears with my scarf --  what a moving post. I feel like I miss moments like that a lot b/c I'm caught up in who knows what shit -- yesterday I went to pickup my girlfriend and drove right by her house! As she waited for me on her porch. She lives 7 houses away. In 60 seconds  I filled my head with crap I couldn't recall, so I wasn't even productive. A block later I realized what I done and drove back and while both us could barely breathe over the hilarity, there was a bit of sadness over how easily distracted I am. 

Erika Napoletano
Erika Napoletano moderator

@CuriousMarie  Ah, but it's the moments like this one, the simple ones, that you'll enver forget and will keep you laughing for years to come :)

LifeCoachLeslie
LifeCoachLeslie

You are really inspiring me, lady! I've clearly been making this too hard. I am in the midst of launching my beautiful self. The intimidation of leaving behind the sheltered world of teaching and donning the mantel of entrepreneur scares the shit out of me. Yet I know it will be done. I see that I've been overthinking things, and clearly I'm not alone in that.

But of all this, what is hovering over my heart is your restraint, your awareness that the couple did not need you to poke into their story. That is a powerful guideline to take in.

Thank you for the inspiration on many levels. I just discovered you recently, and I'm excited to learn more.

Torrey Shannon
Torrey Shannon

This was truly a beautiful story on every level. I admire your quiet presence of this beautiful exchange. I also appreciate the immense gift of reading about it. LIke Tom, I think I have something in my eye...

TomDonaghue
TomDonaghue

Erika, This is one of your best. I especially like that you recognized this wasn't your story and you weren't meant to be a part of it. Your fly-on-the-wall perspective of this sliver of humanity was so eloquently translated. I think I got some sand or something in my eye. Just so well written.

LesKertay
LesKertay

So beautiful; so beautifully written.  It always is the simple thing that makes the difference.  The touch, the look, the silence.  I suspect we make it hard because being open to the bliss means being open to the pain, too, and we don't want to hurt.  Better to be complicated, "smart," and numb to the pain, than to risk the simple beauty that sometimes makes our hearts ache.

Cheesecake for Breakfast
Cheesecake for Breakfast

Yes! Beautiful, magical love DOES exist. Four years ago, my brain exploded. The doctors expected me to die. I didn't. Five days later I woke from my coma. They expected me to be a vegetable. I wasn't. Two weeks later, still wobbly and barely coherent, I was released to finish my recovery at home under the full-time care of dear hubby. One week after that, although I was still unsteady and my head hurt all the time, my dearest hubby fulfilled a simple wish of mine. He took me to get a pedicure and my acrylic nails filled, sitting at my side through the entire process and supporting me as I shuffled from station to station.  His being there, and me being able to do something to return to normal life  (like getting my ugly-ass toes and grown-out fake nails fixed up) - was invaluable in my recovery. Luckily, there are beautiful events and love like that happening everyday, we have both just been lucky enough to get a small glimpse of it ourselves. Awesome and wonderful, isn't it!

Erika Napoletano
Erika Napoletano moderator

@Cheesecake for Breakfast  I, for one, am delighted you are still here, exploded brain and all. And huge props to that hubby of yours for letting nothing get in the way of a gal and her nails :)

pohibear
pohibear

Thanks for the story. Its so nice to read about the good in the world for a change.

mlconnolly
mlconnolly

what a great story - and you captured the essence in the last sentence - why DO we make it so damn hard? Thanks for bringing this story to us and asking the hard questions.

Erika Napoletano
Erika Napoletano moderator

@mlconnolly  Thank you for being the reason I write -- without those who read, I'm just a crazy lady with a keyboard.

ASwirlGirl
ASwirlGirl

Oh, to see a sight like this - and seemingly a miracle to find a love like this! Thanks so much for sharing this glimpse of love. It catches at my heart like at stitch in my side - and infuses me with hope at the same time.

Annie Sisk
Annie Sisk

That was utter grace and perfection. Thank you. 

NikkiGroom
NikkiGroom

Achingly beautiful. I cried. 


You inspire me to be a better writer with every damn thing you write. 


<3

rcarmstrong
rcarmstrong

(and, FTR, I loved this to no end). Thank you. ;-)

rcarmstrong
rcarmstrong

"Dammit", he said, while looking around the monotonously beige innards of his cube life...

KellyHowardYork
KellyHowardYork

"And I wonder why we do our best each day to make it so damn hard."

KDonlan
KDonlan

Ok. I fucking love you. this made me stop dead in my tracks.