I love how sometimes, the best way to have a wonderful day, or learn something new, is to mess up your schedule.
On Tuesday, I taught a class in the morning, and meant to go to yoga at noon before my Panatukan class in Chinatown started at 3pm. I had a little over an hour to kill and a brand new book to do it with! I headed to one of my favourite cafes, Think Coffee, and settled into a booth with some java and my book. "First Loves" by Turgenev. It was lovely, tragic, and funny. You know, a good old classic Russian novella. I felt utterly Chekhovian reading it, which I might have enjoyed almost as much as the book itself.
I bought the book at the Strand Bookstore, which is possibly the most wonderful place on earth. There are at least four floors covered in 18 miles of mostly used books. You can find just about anything, except for some new releases. On Monday night, it was about 10pm, and I was waiting for Danny's show to end so we could travel home on the subway together. I hadn't intended to stay in Manhattan. My initial plan was to go home and organize my closet, but instead, I ended up attempting to find the remaining pieces or my Halloween costume, but actually buying gifts for Danny and some books for myself. I got him a mug that makes you look like you sport the lower half of Abraham Lincoln's face, a sampler that has squirrels on it and says "I'm Nuts About You" at Urban Outfitters, and an Immortal Iron Fist Graphic novel at The Strand. The reason I ended up in Strand at all, to be frank, was their bathroom. But, the result was awesome because I bought myself the Turgenev novella, a book by Henry James, "The Turn of the Screw" and a keychain that says "The Xavier School for Gifted Youngsters". I feel like a badass now every time I unlock my door.
So, as I stated above, my choice to not go home, but rather to kill time in the bookstore (and utilize their rest facilities) resulted in wonderful things. This then influenced my Tuesday because Turgenev made me miss yoga. I was so enraptured in the love twisted tale of young Vladomyr and his love Zinaida, who, once again, in a classic Russian twist, was having an affair with his dad, that I missed it. I looked at my phone and it said 12:15. My coffee had gone cold. I gulped down the remaining lukewarm bits of caffeinated disappointment and formulated a new plan.
This plan was: manicure. I used to treat myself to manicures and pedicures all the time. This, of course, was when I was attending NYU, didn't understand that money did not grow on trees, and thought my breath was made of glitter. Pre-Tuesday, it had been a year since my last manicure. I've been, inexplicably, a stress ball all week, and I remembered that there was a place nearby, E-nail, that was $22 for a manicure and pedicure. Bing, bing, bing! That was what I would do. That would make me feel better. Pampered, massaged, and all kinds of beautified.
It was awesome. I'm so glad I splurged on it. My feet and hands felt like they were made of clouds instead of flesh and bone. The nails on my fingers were decorated a perfectly coated, sparkly hot fuchsia and my toes became a shade of purple so dark, it almost looked black. The callous on the bottom of my feet was no longer hard and peeling, but soft and nice to touch. But... the best part? The lady sitting next to me as I got the manicure.
She was 90 years old, and had been brought in by her best friend as a birthday present. Her friend sat diligently behind her, watching, as the woman giggled with glee. She walked in on her friend's arm, her friend carrying her cane for her. When she transitioned from the manicure station to the long table with the UV lights, her friend helped her along in the same way. The woman just looked so happy. The two ladies just smiled and giggled, and spoke to one another in Russian with voices full of musicality and life. They were so much more excited than I was. I'm 22. They were 86 and 90. They were more full of life. As the woman's fingernails became a lovely, classic shade of light pink, she almost cooed.
They made my day. I don't know any other way to say that. The scene was so beautiful I almost cried. That sounds silly, but that little moment, that touching scene between two friends who obviously cared so much for one another, was amazing. She wanted to give her friend a great 90th birthday, and she did. I almost asked them if I could take their photograph, but I chickened out. I knew I had to write about them, though.
I can only pray that I have a friend that glorious when I'm turning 90. God bless them both. I'm so glad that I didn't go home Monday night. I'm so happy that I got lost in Turgenev. I'm just... happy! That couldn't have worked out better.
You know, I took a photograph of my manicure to put in this post, but right now, I don't care. That would take away from the point. My manicure didn't matter. My experience did.
Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA