Somewhere along the journey between the imaginations of youth and the pragmatism of adulthood, I forgot that magic exists in a simple pair of shoes.
This is common knowledge among grade school children of course; they see so clearly what most of us become blinded to. Stories of ruby red slippers transporting the misguided home or a rags-to-riches tale of dainty feet encased in glass demonstrate the point: shoes have life-changing potential.
Children can’t wait to grow up, but what they can’t understand is being a grown-up doesn’t just give you freedom to do as you please–it brings with it obligation and responsibility that subtly and surreptitiously crowd out wonder and belief that anything can happen. Remember Tom Hanks in "Big"?–a delightful portrayal of this very thing.
Life has a way of clouding vision.
But, when you allow yourself–even when you’re fully grown–you can still see a glimmer of that sweet magic spun by a pair of shoes.
Two instances for me involved the magic of girlfriends.
As an at-home mom with three children waist-high and smaller, for a season I gave up any sense of fashion. Not that I was ever a slave to it–evidenced by the cheek-reddening fact I was The Last Person in America wearing opaque tights, corduroy Bermuda shorts, loud Christmas sweaters and big-collared blouses (blush/cringe) (which I had on when I met Mel Gibson, but that’s another story!)–but for years our clothes budget went to outfit the kids, necessary because they outgrew what they had every few months.
The realization hit my husband one day that I needed new clothes, particularly new shoes. It wasn’t simply that my shoes were dated, they were so pitifully worn out, I wouldn’t have even given them to Goodwill; had I "seen" them, I would’ve deposited them directly into the trash! I just couldn’t see them.
The "magic" came in the response of one of my best friends. When I told her what Tad said, she immediately and emphatically agreed, "Robin, you really DO NEED new shoes!". Bless her heart, she had seen this on my behalf months? years? earlier, but hadn’t found the words to encourage me for fear of offending. When given a door of opportunity, she barreled through.
It was at that moment I knew she was special…she cared enough to tell me the truth, not just tell me what I wanted to hear. Magic.
The other instance of shoe magic was just last year. Again, I had gone years without replacing shoes. Over and over, my husband tried to talk me into a new pair here or there, but I couldn’t justify the expense when there were perfectly good shoes in my closet. We still have to outfit three growing kids and now with two teens and a tween? It’s not cheap.
"Perfectly good" is hardly "perfect" though.
On Mother’s Day after a celebratory lunch and gift giving from my children, I asked Tad if he’d mind if I went to a movie and shoe shopping with a friend. His "Go!" came almost too quickly; he was obviously relieved I was going to replace some of my tired footwear.
Enter Stephanie, my young, hip, fashion-conscious friend who was all too happy to join me. Her philosophy is "If I don’t have the money to spend, it’s almost as fun to spend someone else’s." After delighting through "In the Land of Women", we headed to the shoe department.
For hours…yes, h o u r s, I tried on shoes, many of which I would have never considered apart from Steph’s squeals of approval. I strutted. I prissed. I wobbled on highHIGH heels, and throughout the ordeal, Stephanie cheered me on–"Those are sex-eeeey!" "Those don’t do a thing for ya…." "I like ’em okay, but the others are better." "Those are H O T! You’ve gotta get THEM!" She was like a kid in the candy store with money to burn.
Even though it wasn’t her own.
She tried on shoes, too, and from the time we arrived until closing, we laughed and talked, having one of the deepest conversations we’ve ever had…in the middle of the shoe department at Belks.
Coming home with five pairs of shoes? "Someone" had definitely woven a magic spell over my sense of discretion…and then over Tad’s, too, when he told me to keep all of them.
But you know what? I have been complimented on every one of those pairs of shoes at some point over the past year–e.v.e.r.y. o.n.e.! At middle age, I don’t always feel good about the changes in my appearance…so if a pair of shoes can garner some notice and in the process make me feel sassy or trendy or (gulp) for goodness sakes (giggles) HOT OR SEXY?
If that ain’t magic, I don’t know what is!
I’m so grateful to Michelle at Scribbit for prompting me to write this for her monthly "Write Away" contest–it’s a post I’ve been mulling over for a year and she gave me reason to buckle my seat to the chair and get it done!