One of the most consistent memories I have of my Baba is of her sitting at her kitchen table, painting her nails. She would keep her naturally long nails well manicured, the polish ever shiny and free of chips. She rotated between the same few muted shades of rose, coral, or cream, and there was always the faintest aroma of acetone as you approached that side of the table.

My Baba is my dad’s mom, and largely responsible for seeing me through my teen years when my father’s wife had decided that I was far more than she’d care to deal with. My Baba lived alone in a sprawling California ranch style home in the equestrian neighborhoods of the Burbank hills, and an entire wing of her house had naturally evolved into my retreat space. A few years later, I’d live there with my young husband and our brand new baby. But long before I nested there in my days of early motherhood, in the late 90s that wing was my safe place.

She was my safe place.

I’d gotten in the habit of taking myself for monthly pedicures and had grown accustomed to having polish on my toes. When all the salons were ordered to close, I sighed and started attempting at-home pedicures. They’re neither easy nor relaxing, but the result is more or less the same.

On a random trip to Target a few weeks back, I decided that I’d select a new shade of nail polish. I always limit my browsing to the small section dedicated to the slightly-less-toxic brands of polish, and quickly spotted the Olive & June display.

Obviously, I’m familiar. I mean, I am from LA, duh, but I hadn’t realized the products were available in store. I immediately grabbed a pretty light blue, and recognized it to be one of the original Olive & June shades, which is named after a girl from my high school soccer team who’s gone on to become a successful lifestyle influencer. Sold!

Back home, I painted my toes, loved the color, and proceeded to read all about the company, its founder, and its philosophy, which is mostly about manicures.

I work with my hands, so keeping polish on my fingers has never really been high on my list of priorities, but I do like my nails to look well maintained. Olive & June has developed an entire system for at-home manicures, including a tool to help assist non-dominant hands with painting. It’s actually pretty brilliant.

Thinking it’d be a fun summer project for Jade and I – learning to give ourselves high-quality manicures – I bought a tool kit and a few shades of polish. As a reward for finishing my reports last night, I gave myself what I’m sure will be the first of many manicures.

There is a lot of room for improvement, and after years of caring for them incorrectly, my cuticles aren’t in the best of shape. However, I’m super inspired to keep up this habit. Especially since the entire time I was painting my nails, I was thinking about my Baba.

Tomorrow, Jade comes back from her dad’s house and we’ve got plans to practice painting our nails. Even though the polish we’re using hardly smells at all compared to the noxious stuff my Baba used, I can only hope it’s an odor my daughter associates with peace.

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