Monday, April 7, 2014

My Little Bottle of Sunshine; or, The Coral That Started it All: Maybelline Express Finish Fire Fly

We've all got that one polish. Regardless of price, formula, or availability, it's our perfect polish and we will accept nothing less. You're looking at the reason I love corals so much. The formula is less than stellar, it doesn't do well covering my smile lines, and technically doesn't exist since I can't find it anywhere online, or even confirm it existed with Maybelline, but this doesn't stop me from proclaiming: THIS IS THE MOST PRECIOUS AND LOVED POLISH IN MY STASH. Not only that, it has a lot of memory attached to it.

This feels so weird typing, but come on. We've all got a polish like this in our stash. Right?

Fire Fly came into my life in 2002. I was a sophomore in high school, nervous, quiet, and a festering anxiety disorder compounded with crippling depression (then undiagnosed) caused me to chew my nails into oblivion. A girl who sat in front of me in my Spanish class, aside from always being well-dressed and beautiful, sported the most perfect coral nail polish. It accentuated her subtle tan and made me wish I wasn't so pale. And messy-looking. Despite my tastes leaning more toward black and dark red (or on the other end of the spectrum, silver holographic glitter bombs), I set out to find my own little bottle of sunshine. Maybe it would magically help me dress better, and act less like a dying fish when interacting with people. After poking in Long's Drugs a bit (this is how old this polish is...12 YEARS...when CVS was still Long's Drugs) I found a display of new Maybelline polishes and snapped it up. How I wish I'd bought the whole rack.

I wore it constantly. I may have worn mostly black clothes, purple eyeliner, and Chuck Taylor's so beaten up they belonged in the trash, but I LOVED my coral polish. It helped me chew on my fingertips less, and brightened my otherwise doleful outlook. I used the whole bottle up, and then promptly forgot about it. Other stuff got in the way...crushes, homework, first relationship, friends, betrayals, going to shows, holographic polishes (Sally Hansen Nail Prisms, yo), etc. Teenagers will be teenagers.  A few years later I unearthed the bottle and panicked because all that was left was a fraction of an inch of dried-up gunk. I wanted to wear my coral polish and I couldn't (it didn't occur to me at the time that one could have more than a single coral at a time. Chalk it up to loyalty...or stupidity, take your pick). I searched online...nothing. It was like it didn't exist.

MakeupAlley confirmed that I wasn't crazy. I put a question up on the nail board and a very kind girl answered me, and even offered to send me the bottle she had. I almost cried. I've met the nicest people on that site.

I've tried to use it sparingly, but it's hard, seeing as how it's my everything (in terms of coral). The bottle is about half gone, so until I can find a reasonable dupe, or manage to stockpile a whole bunch of bottles of Fire Fly (listed under 'Utopian Dream') I probably won't wear it as a full manicure after this. It's too precious. The way most varnish veterans feel about Clarin's 230, I feel about Fire Fly.

It's not that special, considering what it is. It's a coral jelly, not too orange, not too pink; just a perfect blend of both. It's bright without being obnoxious or making my skin look dirty (I find really bright shades bordering on neon, or stark, white-based colors tend to make my skin look muddy). Just cheerful and coral. But in all my years of searching for a dupe, I've not found anything like it. I've even attempted mixing my own version.Twice. Everything either is too bright, too dark, too orange or pink, too opaque/creamy...there's a reason I've got a ton of coral polish. While I appreciate them for what they are now, they were, admittedly, purchased in the hope that they would resemble my beloved Fire Fly. None have come close.

And I guess, in a sense, it also is special because it reminds me of a time in my life where, although I was troubled and figuring things out, I was happy. I didn't know I was happy at the time, I was too busy being a depressed teenager. But looking back, I had a lot to be thankful for. I discovered what love felt like. I realized what it was to feel beautiful and have self-esteem. I felt I belonged to humanity in a way I felt I hadn't belonged before. I discovered a talent for writing (that I've been neglecting a lot in the last few years). So this little bottle of sunshine means a lot to me emotionally. It's just one of those polishes.

We've all got one.

P.S. This was three coats. There was bubbling, but not as much as you'd expect from a 12-year old jelly. A couple of coats of NYC Grand Central Station masked most of them.

EDIT: A picture for you from under my makeup mirror light, to show brightness! Taken with my iPhone, my camera would never have been able to do this. I might just start just taking pictures with my phone now:

So pretty!

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