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I got a mindful manicure in New York City

I got a mindful manicure in New York City

I could leave this story right here, and let it be like a one sentence haiku. But I’ll keep on going!

The long version of the story is:

Once upon a time I had a little baby. And when she came out of the womb she was perfect. She had perfect little eyebrows and eyelashes and everything.

I got on the 4:05 ferry one dark morning to give birth to this baby. I got on the 4:05 ferry another dark morning almost 14 years later to say goodbye to my father who had died. And then, shortly after that, I got onto the 4:05 ferry on another dark morning, with this perfect little baby, my now almost 14 year old daughter, to take her to New York City.

I was nervous on this morning. In the darkness I walked right into a bush of nettles that stung as much as my worries.

Would I be enough for my daughter on this trip? She’s extroverted; I’m a hermit. She’s fashionable and applies lipstick perfectly in a car; I get it all over my teeth standing still.

And also-how do I parent somebody who’s in high school? I never honestly thought I would be this old, and I don’t have a picture of how it is that you do this. Or how you do the thing where you go beyond this, and the kids move out of the house, and you get even older.

But I think this was the biggest worry of all-would I be able to be there for my daughter in the way that my father had been there for me, when my daughter and I are moving forward in our lives, but my father has stopped moving forward in his?

My Dad took me on trips, just the two of us. And although he was a lifelong northwesterner, and also an introvert, he loved something about crazy busy New York City.

My guess is that he loved the boldness of it; the boldness of the entire American experiment. The notion that who we’re supposed to be as a species is a group of wildly different people, all coexisting; all expressing who we are, with horn honks and everything. All loving each other for our differences. Affirmatively loving each other, not just tolerating each other.

This, to me, is New York City. This is the vast sea of interweaving humanity I somehow needed to show my daughter after my Dad had died.

And she loved it-she loved being carried along by the neon tide of Times Square at night. She loved the friendly monster roar of the subway. She loved hearing languages all up and down the streets she’d never heard before. She loved the warm peach glow of sunrise over a field of skyscrapers.

And during this trip, my introverted self was enough for my daughter. She was totally cool retreating to our hotel room for midday board gaming breaks, and cozy nights under the covers ordering guacamole from room service.

And my cosmetically inclined fabulous daughter was more than enough for me. She took me out to get a manicure, but, knowing that I don’t like manicures all that much, but that I do like Zen, craftily found a place that offered what was called a mindful manicure.

I got served a lovely cup of tea, got a pair of headphones strapped over my ears, and closed my eyes, listening to relaxation cues, while a lady painted my nails a beautiful purple color my daughter had picked out. And then the lady walked behind me and whapped the heck out of my shoulders just like she was wielding a Zen whapping stick.

And in this moment all worries about everything dropped away.

-Elizabeth Fitterer