My maternal Grandma was always immaculately dressed. She liked to wear delicate pieces of gold jewellery and her nails were always polished. I loved looking at her polished nails and from an early age I took an interest in painting mine. I can recall the first time I tried, and I managed to get the polish all over my hands with very little going onto the actual nail. But over the years I became more adept at it.
I tried acrylic nails once, at one of those nail places where you come out high after inhaling the toxic fumes. The acrylic made my fingers itch too much and so I decided to try and find a beauty salon where they might be able to suggest an alternative. I found a local salon in Kimberley in Nottinghamshire, where they advised me to have something called Shellac instead and it was there that I met Tammi, who did my nails for almost a decade.
Tammi was more than just a nail technician. We became great friends. I worked full-time and I was also a single parent. That hour, once every two weeks at the Salon, was so calming and it became like a therapy session, where I would tell Tammi everything about my life. She became my confessor. Tammi was a very honest and strong-minded individual who wasn’t afraid to tell you what you needed to hear. She encouraged me to start dating again and I would tell her my hilarious tales of the experiences I had on dodgy dates. She knew Jonathan was right for me, months before I knew for myself. Sometimes, I would take my daughter with me and she idolised Tammi. She even managed to persuade her Grandad to play nail salons with her and he made her a nail block out of sandpaper and wood!
After a few years, Tammi decided to leave the salon to return to work in Leeds. I wasn’t too disappointed, as I was also moving to Yorkshire and she agreed to drive to my house to do my finger and toe nails once a fortnight. Tammi then started to become very much like a family member. She was a perfectionist when it came to my nails. I have never been able to have unusual colours or designs on my nails and I prefer to stick with red or pink. Occasionally, I’d try and be a bit adventurous and suggest to Tammi that I try something a little different. She’d instantly refuse to even entertain my idea, knowing that after a day I’d be calling her and asking her to come and remove it. Tammi was always telling me off when my hands became stiff. She’d slap me on the knuckles and shout, “Relax your fingers!” Yet Tammi was there for me when my brother died and helped me to deal with it. She was elated when Jonathan and I were married and even paid an extra visit so that I could have a special red colour, which she thenceforth always called ‘wedding red’. Every anniversary she would remind me that I had to have my special colour.
I remember Tammi telling me that she had plans to look at a different career as she couldn’t do nails forever. I didn’t want to think about it and if she mentioned it then I would change the subject. We carried on for several years with me believing that I would always have Tammi, until one day when she dropped the biggest bombshell news on me ever. Tammi had decided to move abroad and live and work in Cyprus. When she told me, I was absolutely heart-broken. I couldn’t imagine life without Tammi. She did my nails beautifully and people always commented on them, but Tammi was more than that to me. She was my therapist and my confidante. “How can you be so selfish?” I asked her. She was giving me a full two years’ notice, but I didn’t want to think about replacing Tammi. I just wanted to pretend that she’d change her mind. I had two years to convince her.
Sadly, that two years passed in a flash and the final day came this March when Tammi did my nails for one last time. We both cried. It felt so much like a pivotal moment in my life; the end of an era. I couldn’t stop Tammi from moving to such an idyllic place. I had to be happy for her. She deserved to live in such a beautiful location. For the first few months, I thought she might come back, but she didn’t and so I had to accept the reality of finding someone new.
In the end finding someone new was not as hard as I’d imagined. I have managed to find a lovely young girl who is not dissimilar in her appearance to Tammi and who comes to my house every two weeks. In fact, she is like a younger version of Tammi. I find her lovely to talk to and like Tammi, she is also a perfectionist and makes my nails look beautiful. I keep in contact with Tammi, but of course it is not the same as having that pure hour of undivided attention every fortnight.
In life certain people come into our lives and for various reasons they leave. I don’t think any of us find change an easy concept to deal with. I certainly didn’t and for many months, I buried my head in the sand and pretended that it wasn’t going to happen, because I didn’t want to face up to the reality. It’s a shame that I no longer see Tammi as much as I did, but she’s so happy now and living in virtual paradise that I am genuinely pleased for her and I could never begrudge anyone who manages to achieve their dream. My new nail technician has been a breath of fresh air and she has even managed to convince me occasionally to try new colours and something a little bit different to the norm. I hope that she will keep doing my nails for many more years to come. But if she ever mentions moving abroad…well, let’s not go there, just yet.