Sunday, September 25, 2011

Pedicures: Pathway to Peace

10 years ago I was in the Peace Corps in Togo.  50 years ago the Peace Corps began.  I missed all the anniversary festivities this weekend in Washington DC because of rain, kids and life.  That's ok.  I don't need to go to festivities to remember my time there (though I do crave Togolese food something awful!).  I think about it almost every day.

There are threads that run through life that connect people, places and moments through time and space.  Oddly enough, Pedicures are one of those threads for me.

One of my favorites memories from the early days in my village began with pedicures.  I remember the first nights being in self-imposed seclusion in my house, not comfortable speaking the language, not comfortable with the dark of night, with only using a lantern to get around, with being an object of curiosity.  I would shuffle about in my little house, feeling all of the children's eyes peering at me from outside.  Fish in a bowl - that was me, except the barrier was a mixture of culture, awkwardness and curiosity. 

Former Peace Corps volunteers had recommended packing nail polish.  One night, I wanted so badly to make a connection with my new 'family' outside and so I finally remembered - the nail polish!  Be bold!  Be brave!  Be enameled!  None of us could speak to each other, but I opened the door and showed them all the colors of 'vernis.'  Floodgates open!  Within minutes, all the children were in my house and it was the biggest pedicure party I'd ever seen!  They spoke to each other, tried to speak to me, I tried back, and somehow we all got our nails done and made friends.

From that night on, pedicures happened pretty regularly, which opened the door for card-playing, hand-clapping games, and even the littlest ones trying to teach me the local language.  I finally had friends who eventually became like family and I miss them dearly to this day.

Peace through pedicures.

Tonight, the kids and I did pedicures!  Somehow, that same magical thing happens in our house when we bust out the nail polish.  Even the guys want in on the action!  Hurt feelings get smoothed over, tears and frustration are gone for a short while and none of us have to be on the same page to be happy with each other....  as long as after everything, nails are blue or pink or red.... with sparkles of course!

What problems have you solved with nail polish?  :)

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