Wednesday, November 30, 2022


 Our writing word this time is "shoes." It's my word, in the sense that I gave it as the idea for the next writing exercise. Well, I love shoes. I am a "shoe person." I can remember most of the shoes I have worn since grade school. I remember saddle shoes and white bucks. I also remember polishing those shoes with a white chalky solution, when the white wasn't white anymore. I pine for my patent leather dress shoes, even though they pinched and I can't forget some scrawny running shoes that fell apart at the seams.

In high school, I wore black oxfords. They were part of my school uniform, however, I changed into more fashionable black "gumdrops" or "desert boots" to ride the buses home. On the weekends we went to dances and I had "dancing" shoes. These shoes always had a heel. I had one pair of green suede shoes with a small hour glass heel, which I loved. I also had a pair of brown leather T-strap shoes with a slightly higher heel to go with a brown corduroy suit I had made.

I remember going to shoe sales after Christmas and buying three or four pairs of shoes at a time. I loved a classic pump with saddle stitching or a shoe with a front that laced up like a boot. When I started teaching, I decided to buy a sensible pair of "Clark's" shoes with a sturdy heel for all the standing I would be doing in the classroom. These shoes for all their expense and their trusted name, squeaked. When I presided over examinations, I was the pariah.

Ironically, the pair of shoes that I have worn the longest were actually given to me. My neighbour came by one day with a large, black garbage bag full of shoes. A friend of hers was decluttering and decided to throw out a centipede's worth of shoes. Here was a shoe person too, but not of my standards. Her shoes weren't leather. They were bought in a department store, not a dedicated shoe store and many had extraneous buckles or other ornamentations to "fancy" them up. However, they were bought in multiple colours - brown, black, red... I wore the red ones on the days I needed to wear ruby slippers.

I kept what I thought I would use and gave the rest to charity. In spite of their inferior quality, I wore one black pair of shoes for twenty years. I had them resoled twice before I finally decided I couldn't wear a heel anymore.

Somewhere, though, in the midst of all this fashionable "footing" is a heart ache. In fact, two heart aches and both were in Spain. Years ago when I was hitch hiking through Europe, I was in Madrid and had decided to buy a pair of shoes in Spanish leather, after the folk song - "Boots (or shoes) of Spanish Leather." I took ages to decide. I had to spend my money wisely, as I didn't have much. Finally, I chose a pair of white Mary Jane's with a low heel. I wore them with white stockings and a black and white dress to two weddings that summer. Sadly, I don't know what happened to them. But I remember the angst of buying them. I remember how the song played out in my head and I remember how timeless I felt every time I wore them. I was part myth, part music, not really of this earth. These were shoes from another world.

My second story of shoes in Spanish leather happened fairly recently, about seven years ago. I was in Seville and I decided to buy another pair of shoes. I was fascinated by the shoes worn by the flamenco dancers. Many were tied with ribbons. (I forgot to mention that I did have a black pair of patent leather shoes which I had bought in London years ago that were tied with ribbons.)

Finally, after looking in every shoe store in Seville, I found a black pair that were tied with some awkward patent leather laces. I decided that I would replace the laces with ribbon. I brought them home. Unfortunately, I never made time to go to a fabric store and buy ribbons for what is probably my last pair of dancing shoes and since I have now lost my dancing partner, I may never wear them. A little sad like the song of lost love, I mentioned earlier. In the restless to-ing and fro-ing of life, we often forget what is most important.

Have a memorable day.

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