I have forgotten my toes because I never really see them. I wear socks and clogs all day at work and I happily wear all the boots in my closet because of the cold weather. As a result, I don't get to see my toes much.
Recently, during a trip to Hawaii, I realized my work shoes had no role to fill here and boots really serve no purpose in a place known as Paradise. Only then did I realize the sad state my toes were in. I meant to redo my toenail polish but life keeps getting in my way. I kept putting it off day after day all the while telling myself I'll get to them tomorrow. I turned a blind eye to the sight of the polish first fading and I pointedly ignored it when the tired paint finally relinquished their tenacious hold and simply disappeared.
Once upon a time, I took meticulous care of my nails. I pampered my hands and my feet twice a month. The moment I noticed even the tiniest, miniscule imperction would find me immediately making my way to my favorite mani-pedi spa in Honolulu, Los Angeles or New York. I would never have allowed myself to deteriorate into this forsaken state.
Once upon a time, no one and nothing would ever or could ever hurt me. I was impervious to any and all attacks. I was fearless simply because I didn't give a fuck. The "me" I showed the world was filed away into perfect ovals. My true self was safely hidden away and sheathed in numerous layers of lacquer expertly applied to hide the true nature of what dreamed underneath. All this was expertly designed by me in order to give the illusion of a perfection that is simultaneously entirely unnatural and yet utterly attainable. This is what's commonly known as a French manicure. What an odd name. A manicure. Man-I-Cure. Hidden within its very name is an implication that man (or men) can be cured like some rare disease. How delightfully absurd. Glinting from their secured perch would be cold crystals happily breaking apart the light that fell upon them.. Etched upon the finger of my choice on both hands would either be a delicate flower, a blessing or a symbol of death.
Secreted away from plain view upon my feet would be armor of a different color. Usually, it would be a darker shade but, to be more precise, a more sinister color. No pretense of faked perfection here. I suppose I allowed my truer colors to show because sometimes my feet were the first thing people could and would see. I figured it was fair game to give them fair warning. No one was ever the wiser and that was a secret joke I laughed about all the time. My preferred shade of choice was the chameleon polish that would always shift and change colors depending on which angle you happened to be looking at me from. Tattooed upon those nails would be flowers wrapped in thorns or something equally sharp.
Today, I looked at them and realized I had been neglecting myself. The once vibrant ruby red I had painted was now tired and could only hint with a desolate sigh at the color it once was. It angered me. Red is the color of love, the color of passion and the color of life. How could I not have paid it proper attention and immediately intervened on my own behalf but, even worse, how could I willingly have done this to myself? Thinking back these past couple of years, I realized exactly how long it's been since I last let myself take precedence above others. I've slipped and as a result, I've paid for it dearly.
In a rage, I stripped off the old layer of paint. In one fell swoop, I erased the old hurts, the anger, the hate. I removed with a fury all the pain I sustained, all the hopeless riddles I wasted countless nights trying to decipher. I successfully attacked and swiped away all the useless daydreams and half realized realities I wove around myself, deluded myself into wishing for and let others spin around me in a kind of cocoon that would never allow me to leave but one that I willingly subjected myself to.
Once my nails were laid bare, I gazed upon their naked form. Finally, I have something to work with. With painstaking care, I reapplied the same shade of luscious ruby and painted into myself new dreams and brighter hopes.
I watched with a satisfaction bordering on ferocity as the polish set. Once again, my hidden heart is properly sheathed and armored but the me the world sees? It is bare by my choice for a reason all my own.