Friday, September 18, 2015

Blue Suede Shoes

Those are my new, only worn twice, blue suede shoes, My daughter, Jane, bought them for me. A present to mark the publication of my book. She of course knew my story - not all my story - but when she read the book, especially the sections that dwell, some might say dwell obsessively, on sneakers and my fascination with shoes, she immediately decided that she had to buy me a pair of shoes.

I am not a shopper. I did learn after my surgery that shopping for shoes didn't have to be the true chore it had been for years. Not having to wear a shoe with a built-up heel, or a shoe that could accommodate a large brace meant that the world of possible shoe choices had grown significantly larger. I wasn't sure about shopping with Jane for shoes. She has a refined fashion sense, I have none. She can spend hours in a mall looking for exactly the right thing and leave not finding it but still happy. I get antsy after a half hour in a mall and can handle at best three stores and if I don't leave with what I was looking for I leave disgruntled. And of course there is the real problem of the gulf between the shoes I might love to wear and the shoes I need to wear. I need shoes that have some support for the ankle, that can accommodate a brace, a slighter smaller lighter brace than those I wore as a child but still a brace.The combination of all of these issues had me anxious.

The shopping trip was a breeze. First store we were in, I found the shoes I needed, the shoes I wanted. When I was in my twenties, I loved desert boots. Never owned blue shoes before in my life. It was cool, fun and a small thrill.

The next week, I wore them to a reading at the Niagara-on-the-Lake Public Library's Wine and Word Series. The night before the reading, I tried them out. Wore them around the house, walked about in them. I had to, I didn't want to trip and fall wearing new shoes. They were amazing. Some one in the audience at the reading asked how the shoes felt. I started talking about how the last time I ever wore sneakers was in the early nineties. Then I broke my foot one too many times and wearing a brace became the norm yet again. so twenty two years later I put on a pair of desert boots and I am transformed and transfixed. They are so light, they feel so not present that I am for a moment speechless.

At one point in my book I describe sneakers as a symbol of freedom. And of course that is a slight hyperbole. Freedom is much more complex than the lightness of a shoe. Regardless, when I put on those blue suede shoes for the first time I remembered exactly what sneakers had always felt like, they felt and feel liberating. They feel like freedom.

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