How to nail down a presence

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By Hannah Hayes

A few things have broken down lately in my aging body. Split fingernails led me to my first real manicurist, Shannon Hoffman. No mere nail technician, Shannon is a miracle worker who has rescued my hands from tape and glue with her sensitive and individualized approach to nail care.
What did I know? I’d had the obligatory manicure for a few family functions and a couple of mass-produced pedicures during sandal season.
Shannon tells me that the larger salons I had frequented use power tools and a factory approach. “It’s more intimate to sit with someone and hold her hands. I enjoy providing that atmosphere.” The Nail Studio in Conifer is definitely cozy without being too small.
Shannon started manicuring in the ‘80s when “everyone had their nails done.” (Where was I?) It just made sense to her to have a trade. Thirty years later, she still enjoys her work.
With my high school reunion coming up, I’ve tried to remedy some of those signs of aging — not that I’ve had much success. Shannon says we do our nails for our health and — here’s what makes it different from facials and hair color — we get to look at the results without the aid of a mirror. I’ll admit my typing has taken on a different shine with my nails done.
The Nail Studio isn’t about luxury. It’s a necessity, particularly here in Colorado, where heels can easily become cracked and painful. After a shower, we usually leave our feet wet so there’s no exfoliation. This leaves nails to thicken and become difficult to trim.
“You’ll be glad down the road if you take care of your feet.” Shannon believes, “A good manicure should be as essential as brushing your teeth.”  
Manicures don’t make you look younger. They’re a small thing that helps people, especially the aging, feel good about themselves. Shannon has worked with folks up to age 105. These are people who often don’t get touched. “I like old people,” she says, “and wanted to see if I could be of some use to them. I get more than I give.”
Heading to my high school reunion to get a glimpse of who I was might prove valuable to someone who has been so busy creating who she is. Maybe I, too, can give some historical reflection to an old classmate? At least my nails will ready for some warm handshakes.

Hannah B. Hayes is a former Both Sides Now debate columnist, small-business owner and peace activist. She has been a part of the Evergreen community for more than 35 years.