If you know me well, you know about my former addiction. If you don’t already know, I once had a serious problem. For years I unsuccessfully waged a war against my disease but in the end, it always won. I easily fell back into my habit and, with little resistance; I let it consume me over and over again. It wasn’t until I had two children that I was finally able to knock that monkey off my back. For the good of my family, we moved far, far away from the places that offered me an easy fix whenever I felt a moment of weakness. It was an expensive habit – my addiction to shoes.
I liked my shoes high and I liked them pricey. I don’t know why, I just did. Who am I kidding? I still do. My closet is filled with beautiful shoes that were just perfect in New York and Boston. I could throw them on for work or cocktails. It wasn’t odd to take a pair for a stroll through the mall where no one ever threw me the hairy eyeball for walkin’ around all fancy-like. In fact, the sales people who knew their shoes knew that they had a sure thing if I walked through their department. Like the pushers they were, they pushed their best stuff at me and fed my disease. I justified my addiction by claiming that my job required me to look a certain way. I was representing a major hotel company. I was attending the openings of W Hotels and their trendy bars. I needed my shoes, dammit!
Last summer, I put one of my favorite pairs of shoes on and simply walked around the house in them. I told them that I missed them and apologized for keeping them all boxed up in the closet. Then I walked into the garage, fired up the riding mower and bumped around our acre and a half wearing my Jimmy Choos and a pair of shorts. It was a bittersweet ride. I mowed my lawn in a pair of golden high-heeled sandals.
Like millions of girls before her, Gwen has inherited the gene that draws her to a pair of pretty shoes like a moth to a flame. Last weekend we went shopping together and, although she’s only 4 going on 16, she displayed great prowess on the hunt. I nearly burst with pride when she naturally gravitated to the shoe department as if called by some ancient beacon. Her tiny feet carried her through the department store along the precise route I would have chosen to reach the shoes as quickly as possible. I simply followed behind and nodded approvingly at her early and advanced display of skill.
Having reached the shoe department, she cast a distasteful glance toward the water shoes and those slip-on moccasin/sneaker things. Her footsteps led directly to the jewel covered thongs, shining patent leather and mini-gladiator sandals. Then, exhibiting the aptitude of a seasoned pro, she performed an efficient walk-thru of the shoe department to assess the situation. Without missing a beat, she looped back around to where she began, picked up the shoes that caught her eye and requested each in a little girl’s size 9.
Our arms loaded with boxes, we entered that most heavenly place of trying on shoes and imagining where they might be worn and with what?
She slid her feet into a pair of tiny wedge sandals and gasped, “Ooooooo, Mommy these are just like your beautiful brown wedges.” She pivoted her dainty foot and lovingly gazed at the shoes in the mirror resting on the floor.
I’m going to take a little walk, tell me how they look.
And off she went, walking away from me with her legs looking a bit too shapely in that pair of wedge sandals. For the briefest moment, we rode straight through time and spent a split second in our future. She was no longer four, but instead, a beautiful young woman who seemed to have just left her fourth year behind. My throat tightened.
Gwennie, I think those shoes are bit too grown up for you… Mommy and Daddy don’t think that heels are appropriate for little girls.
Expecting some resistance, I had armed myself with a pair of gaudy jewel-crusted flip flops. The gleaming pink plastic gems distracted her. She kicked those wedges off and clamored for the sparkles. If anyone can successfully pull off giant pink jewels on her shoes, it’s a four-year-old fashionista.
She tried on precisely 15 pairs of shoes that afternoon and provided a commentary on each.
I’m not a big fan of the blue sandals.
Those ones look like boy shoes.
Those are nice, but they just aren’t my ‘thing’.
She finally narrowed her pile down to two pairs of shoes, and then very decisively chose a pair of fashion-forward gladiator sandals. Exactly the ones I would have chosen if they came in my size.