First, let me make it clear that I’m no Imelda.
I’m not even a distant second.
But I do have plenty of shoes—athletic shoes in various colors, waterproof pairs because the weather in Washington State is mostly NOT dry and sunny, winter boots, loafers, two or three pairs of sandals, black and brown low heels, and a pair of higher heels covered in sequins. (I’m pretty sure I bought those at a thrift store for a costume party and wore them just once, but the question is: Why do I keep them around?)
I tell myself I have my “addiction” under control. I no longer need the “fix” of shoe shopping at least once a month and the “high” of shoe buying in spring and fall. At least, I don’t need it the way I did in my 20s and 30s.
Compared to the cravings of many of my friends, my addiction was mild. Yes, shoe-buying accounted for too much of my budget, but I didn’t go into debt. Instead I compensated by bringing a lunch to work and turning down the heat at home. (The lower temperature also provided a reason to wear those knee-high boots on into the spring.)
I wish I could tell a dramatic story about friends holding an intervention and forcing me to join a support group to curb my shoe craving.
But what happened was:
I got older
And less willing to sacrifice and suffer for fashion
And in touch with what the impulse shoes of my youth were all about
Getting older meant I had to “pay” for the way I’d treated my feet. I developed tendon issues that require custom-made metal and plastic insoles. They feel as if I’m standing on a lead pipe and they don’t work with heels or most sandals.
- Getting wiser meant I took stock of the shoe space in my closet (about 6 square feet or enough to hold one rack for nine shoes with a little space on the side) and the spare cash in the budget. I realized I was less willing to scrimp on groceries and heat, to sacrifice for fashion.
Getting to the next stage—being less willing to suffer—allowed me to toss out shoes that looked more like stilts, those that didn’t quite fit but were okay as long as standing and walking weren’t required, the ones that needed special cleaning or polishing, and any that went with outfits long departed.
And getting in touch with the symbolism of shoes meant I understood that, no matter what happened to that that chick with the glass slipper, odds were that would never happen to me. Shoes wouldn’t change my life. The majorette boots I got for my birthdays when I was five, six, and seven, never gave me any musical talent. I can’t even clap on the beat. The spiky heels I wore during the disco era (or is that the error?) never made me a decent dancer. The hiking boots I bought never caused me to tackle challenging ascents or lengthy treks.
Beyond that, I realized that the shoes I found seductive—the shoes I HAD to have—weren’t necessarily good for me. In fact, those shoes were often metaphors for the romantic relationships I wandered into while wearing them.
My love affairs with those shoes and those men were often painful, but they made me stronger, and gave me more insight into the workings of the heart andmind—my own and those of others, including my fictional characters.
I’m not saying I no longer gaze into display windows, detour through the shoe sections of department stores, or notice what my friends are wearing. I’m not saying that I don’t sometimes conjure up images of those navy blue sandals or black suede boots I once owned.
But there’s no magic pill, no quick cure for the shoe flu. I expect I’ll have relapses as long as I’m able to get my shoes on without assistance—and maybe even after that.
How about you?
Did you have a love affair with shoes? Are you still involved? Or have you broken it off? If so, how did you do it?
Stop by and tell us about your experiences and you could win a copy of my suspense novel, Sea of Regret. The sequel to An Uncertain Refuge, it’s set at a wildlife rehabilitation center on the Oregon Coast—a site a ruthless developer will stop at nothing to acquire. The protagonist, Kate Dalton, wears sneakers and sandals and flip-flops.
Carolyn J. Rose is the author of several novels, including Hemlock Lake, Through a Yellow Wood, An Uncertain Refuge, A Place of Forgetting, and No Substitute for Murder. She penned two humorous cozy mysteries, The Big Grabowski and Sometimes a Great Commotion, with her husband, Mike Nettleton.
She grew up in New York’s Catskill Mountains, graduated from the University of Arizona, logged two years in Arkansas with Volunteers in Service to America, and spent 25 years as a television news researcher, writer, producer, and assignment editor in Arkansas, New Mexico, Oregon, and Washington. She founded the Vancouver Writers’ Mixers and is an active supporter of her local bookstore, Cover to Cover. Her interests are reading, gardening, and not cooking.
Visit Carolyn’s website www.deadlyduomysteries.com
“Sea of Regret” on Amazon