My daughter enjoys painting toenails. Actually, she enjoys painting anything. Creative by nature, she has her hands constantly working on decorating her bedroom, making signs, designing cards, beading necklaces and bracelets, or writing in her journal.
She is entranced by color–the brighter the better. She keeps 323 paint samples in a box under her bed.
When she paints her nails she can never decide on one color only, so often all ten fingers and all ten toes will be different.
Occasionally, she will seek out a willing model with naked nails to paint. My husband has had pink nails on more than one occasion. One of our family friends, a six-foot-five-inch man weighing two-ninety, has sported peach fingers after a visit to our home.
I’m a little more conservative when it comes to color on my nails. I go for red or pink or beige. Unless Maisy gets ahold of me.
Right now, as I sit here typing this, my laptop resting on my legs, my bare feet crossed at the ankles, my toenails blind me. She begged. I folded. My great toenails are black and orange. The four smaller digits on each foot are bright, blinding orange. I feel like a warning sign for a nuclear waste site.
Even so, I smile when I study them, the splotches around the cuticles, the uneven coats. I think about all the people who have sat patiently under the stroke of her brush, smiling at the result, realizing that there is so much going on there than a whim. With each stroke of her nail brush, she gains insight into something else she wants to make, something else she wants to draw.
When I can’t write, I move furniture or I paint rooms. And after observing my daughter I realize she does something similar. When her active mind has had a little too much, when she can’t think of anything to write about or make or design, she paints nails. And when her own are done, she finds someone else to sit for her.
Before long, she is once again inspired and disappears to her room where she adds to the exhibits in her “studio”.
As a writer I take a lesson from her. I understand what she needs to do to get herself back on track. As a result, when I find I don’t know what to put on the page I take a break. I do something different. I create something besides words.
I have no idea if she’s aware of the pattern or not. When she’s older I’m sure we’ll discuss it. In the meantime, I’ll enjoy my pedicures and my daughter and marvel at her creative mind.