Shoes ~ 34 and Counting
My shoes are collecting dust. They are sitting in their appointed slots on the shelf wondering if they will ever see my feet again. I have not worn shoes for nearly a year except for weekly grocery shopping and I wear the same pair every time I go out. They are well worn, comfortable, and slip-on easily. They feel like an old friend. I keep them near the door for quick trips to the store, stepping out to pick up packages, or the occasional walk to the mailbox.
I found myself counting all the memories my dusty shoes have shared with me. Trips to Ireland, Las Vegas, Maine, and New York just to name a few. Shoes I used to wear to work, even the ones that were reserved for casual Fridays and weekends. Some have been with me a very long time waiting for a special occasion to break out from the rest of the pack as if to say, “she picked me today, yahoo!” I wonder, will there be any special occasions in the future given this locked down life we’re all in? Should I keep you or let you go? I decided that it’s too much for me right now to make such a heavy weighted decision about the future of my 34 pairs of shoes.
When I was young, we got one pair of shoes per year, and sometimes it was much longer if money was tight. The shoes would go off to the cobbler for heal and sole repair and a polish you could see your face in. I loved the smell of the pristine polished leather and the look of my brand-new burnt-umber colored soles.
My father told me long ago to be grateful to have a good pair of shoes. As a young man, he had one pair. When they wore out, he would cut cardboard replacements to cover up the holes and slip them inside his shoes. He told me how ashamed he felt walking down the street to the sound of cardboard flapping with every step and when it rained his feet would be wet for the day. Perhaps my affinity for shoes is borne out of the story of my father’s shame for the one and only pair he owned.
When I started working, I bought lots of shoes. I have purchased and given away more shoes to last two lifetimes. I still can’t resist a shoe store when I see one. Although, it has been some time since I have laid eyes on any store. Because of the pandemic, my only regular store adventures are for food and prescription pickups.
Seeing my shoes all lined up with no place to go often makes me sad each day. I do my best not to pay attention to them when I walk into the closet. This morning, the light was just right, and my eye caught the dust that has accumulated on them since March of 2020. I stared at them while they looked back at me wondering if I was going to select something or dust them. I decided to ignore them and left. Too bad for you I thought, you can sit there and mock me with your dust and need to go somewhere!
Then today, something happened. I attended my companies Women’s Leadership meeting. Our topic was a roundtable discussion on emotional well being and coping during Covid-19. Our host started off the conversation by stating she was up all night because she fears public speaking and isn’t good at it. She also said she has suffered a lot of anxiety since this all began but one of the things, she does that makes her feel better is wearing her shoes. I love my shoes she exclaimed!
In my state of disbelief that my story and her words were colliding into this serendipitous moment hit me, she made a great point. Just because you’re not going anywhere doesn’t mean you can’t put your shoes on. We have become a nation of slipper wearers because we are in the house all of the time. Now, I just have to decide if I want to dust!