I’m sitting at a café, enjoying a cappuccino and switching between writing and reading Chelsea Handler’s Uganda Be Kidding Me. Right now, Chelsea and friends have just finished their African safari and she is prepping us for her next adventure. I know I should be reading something with a little more substance but I still feel like I’m on vacation, so I’m going to continue to read this trash. This is my first real moment to relax. Since I’ve arrived, we’ve been going but I can’t complain. I’m wired that way. I love to be rushing from one activity to the next; it gets me excited about life. However, this is not the purpose of this trip. I’m finding myself making mental lists and scheduling one activity after another- first I’ll go to the gym, then I’ll shower and eat, after I’ll go explore this new city and have a coffee, etc. Then I remind myself that I need to slow down and be in the moment; it’s perfectly fine if have absolutely no plans today or tomorrow. I thought winding down would be easier but it’s proven to be more difficult than I expected, especially given the pleasure I get from scheduling my day down to the minute. My gut is telling me that I’ll eventually adjust.
This morning, I gave myself a pass and scheduled an appointment. A few days ago, I met the daughter of the apartment owner, Iva. She’s in her early twenties and has blown me away with her maturity and worldliness. And goodness, she is smart. I can’t imagine being that composed at her age. I have to step up my game when I’m with her; I don’t want to embarrass both my family and country. She was so kind and took me around town to give me the lay of the land and shared some insights on Varazdin, which was incredibly helpful. Being me, I was listening very intently but became somewhat distracted by her beautiful nails. You could tell that they hadn’t been manicured recently, yet they were still so shiny, without any chips. I was mesmerized. I was a little ashamed to ask but the bourgie girl in me had to know where she got her nails done. Not only did she tell me, she took me to the salon so I could schedule my very own appointment. I was in beauty heaven.
So this morning, at 9:05, I was scrambling out of the apartment to get to my appointment by 9:15. I hate feeling rushed to get anywhere, especially since I’m not supposed to be scheduling appointments this month, but I have a true weakness when it comes to nails. I can only blame my mother for spoiling me as a child with regular mani/pedis. I arrived at the Beauty Box on time and was greeted by Mirna, this tall, exotic Croatian woman, and I was in my element. I was also greeted by the owner, Ines, who was busy working away with another client. The four of us women began talking and they asked me questions about myself like “What’s your occupation? “, “Why would you visit our small town?” and questions about the States, like “What does Starbucks really taste like?”, it was fun. We laughed and talked about getting married and ugly engagement rings. Ines described a ring with a gold band that had green leaves on it, leaves as green as grass on the engagement ring. I would say that it is probably one of the ugliest engagement rings I’ve ever heard described, that poor engaged girl. Being there, chatting it up and joking with these women, felt like I was being welcomed into Varazdin.
And my nails! Oh, they look amazing. I got to forgo those annoyingly work appropriate colors and did something a little bit wild; a blend of pinks and pale orange. Or, as Ines called them, Skittle nails, which is a completely fair statement. They do look like Skittles, but only the good flavors, like Strawberry Starfruit and Mango Tangelo. The best part about this mani is probably the system that they use here. Maybe I’ve been living under a rock but I’ve never seen a manicure like this. Somebody please inform me if I’m behind in times. Alessandro-International’s Striplac is the name of the system that she used, and I’m now obsessed with it. The overall process is fairly simple and I’ve fallen in love with it so much so, that I’m researching purchasing this product to use at home. From everything I’ve read, it last for forever, it doesn’t chip, your nails are crazy shiny, it comes in an insane amount of colors and you don’t have to use acetone to remove it, they simply peel off. God bless the German woman who invented it. It’s almost too good to be true, hence the research and trial. Fingers crossed that it goes well.
I realize that pink painted nails probably sound silly and frivolous, but hey, it made this girl happy. And as I sit here now, admiring my hands and hunting down how I can get my hands on Alessandro-International products, I know that a manicure can sometimes be more than a manicure. The practice of pampering yourself proved to be universal today; most women like to treat themselves every once in a while. Whether it’s because they have slight addiction, like myself, or they needed something that can make them feel a little more pretty that day. The bond that comes from sharing in and acknowledging the importance of this practice crosses all language barriers. As I have witnessed today, a manicure connected me to people that I may not have spoken to or who may not have spoken to me. It gave all of us the opportunity to let our guards down, get to know each other and lay the ground work for a friendship. That is the power of a manicure.