I have always been one of those “comfort” shoe girls – flip flops over princess heels, hiking boots over stilettos. On occasion, though, I try on something different: a new pair of shoes.
It’s weird how a new pair of shoes can make you feel, a friend recently informed me. How true.
A new pair of heels make my hips swing differently, make my shoulders shift back, and make me stretch myself. They may be out of my comfort zone but I try them anyway, just to see what might happen.
A friend owned a pair of ‘smoking shoes’ instead of a ‘smoking jacket.’ Whenever the veranda door shut, she would slip into the beautiful, white, sparkly flats. I tried them on – my toes wiggling into the worn grooves, the giving leather, the established comfort – and it felt as if I were playing dress-up, trying on an unfamiliar story of history.
In Dubai, I indulged in my ‘Sex and the City (II)’ moment at a shoe stall. Bright blues, deceptive pinks, and astonishing greens sparkled in strangling piles behind the displays. I somehow talked my way into the storage space to try on different sizes, and I cramped myself in the corner with the shoes peeking out of plastic wrap. So many choices. So many decisions.
And it is the pair of shoes that we decide to buy that symbolizes parts of our identity. These decisions, sometimes impulsive and sometimes logical, illuminate different parts of our personalities: rash blue surprises, encompassing earth-tone security, rubber tire chances.
Some shoes we wear out, applying layers of duct tape over holes to prolong an over-worn life. I have a series of Montrail hiking boots in my closet that my mother will not let me throw away (no matter how much I faux-complain about it).
I created a relationship of reliability and trust with those hiking shoes – one pair retains the red hue of African dirt, another hosts leather made soft from Scottish rains, and a third pair has a worn sole from treading over European cobblestone streets. They are artifacts of my own history.
Now, according to my physical therapist, I require extra arch support in my shoes. But (shh-don’t tell her) every once in awhile I slip on a pair of very bright, very flat, very Dubai slippers.
Just to see what might happen.