In between gigs, in between boyfriends, in between cities, in between days, I just like to write.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Anything I Need to Know About Love, I Learned From Buying Shoes

The last time I fell in shoe-love, I was looking for a pair of elegant black pumps (to this date still not found). Instead, I ended up taking home high-heeled, purple suede ... ummm... loafers? More like Mary Poppins shoes. I’m sure the shoe people have a name for them. Whatever. They’re mine and I love them. I even made a video about them on my other blog (click here to view).
The time before that I wasn’t looking for shoes at all, rather gallivanting with a friend through the empty streets of the posh part of town after hours when we happened by a shop window - one I never knew existed (Petra Dieler's boutique off of Goethe Stra├če). There they were. Black boots with the most interesting clog-like heel, like nothing I’d ever seen. Sleek, yet suede, with a long, tight shaft made of stretchy nylon, hugging the thigh right underneath the knee ... oh, stop! 
I kept passing by those boots in the weeks to come, like a crazed stalker. I reminded myself of the times I would just ‘happen’ to be walking by that boy’s locker in high school. Or the time I just ‘happened’ to be at the same classical guitar recital as that other guy. Classical guitar recital? Seriously? Let’s face it, I was just trying to snag a dude. It worked. Briefly. But that’s another story.
Actually, no it isn’t.
Falling in shoe-love is very much like falling in person-love. It happens when you least expect it, with the person/shoe you probably weren’t looking for in the first place.
Anyway, unlike the guy from the guitar recital who did not deign to date me, the boots in the posh store window were finally marked down enough for me to take them home with me. Nevertheless, they are to this date the most expensive article of clothing I’ve ever bought. In fact, that purchase takes fourth place only to my laptop, my piano and my Bikram yoga membership. I still love them. They’re not very comfortable, though.
Therein lies the problem. I have horrible feet. Although I wouldn’t exactly call it a bunion, my big-toe joint on each foot is rather large and is a bit arthritic with limited mobility, making high-heels more like hell-heels. Additionally, I have a low metatarsal arch which results in callouses on the underside of my feet (like the part I step on when I walk), so even flat shoes aren’t necessarily pain-free.  Orthotic insoles usually alleviate one problem, but aggravate the other. I’d really rather walk barefoot on the beach all the time. Then again, we all know that’s a myth - usually the sand is too hot to tread upon, and you either step in seagull shit or broken glass. Anyway you slice it, my feet hurt.
Horrible feet, like baldness, apparently skips a generation. I’m so envious of my mother’s feet - sturdy hooves with a perfect arch, able to trudge tirelessly through all types of terrains on countless miles of hikes. Well, to be honest, my sister has healthy feet (and a head o’ hair - I was robbed!!).  My brother also has a head o’ hair, which sometimes makes me think I’m adopted, but both he and I inherited our grandmother’s crappy bone structure. She complained of aching feet for as long as I can remember. My brother had an operation to get his feet straightened out and still suffers. I just wear out my feet shopping in vain for the perfect pair of shoes. 
What did I do to deserve this? Most podiatrists try to tell me it comes from wearing too many high heels. Are you kidding me? In college my nickname was Granola Graham - I wore Birkenstocks and China doll slippers all the time.
Are character flaws reflected in the feet? A woman I used to go to for massage purported that foot pain always refers to an imbalance in another part of the body. The principle of foot reflexology is, if you have something wrong with your kidneys, for example, you can detect it or even treat it by handling the corresponding part of the foot. My question: ‘What if I just randomly stubbed my toe on a table leg?’ Her response: ‘A-ha! But why did you, in that precise moment, stub your toe on the table leg?’ True, true. Some distraction, some self-fulfilling prophecy, some form of losing control of my own destiny. Surely symbolic of being unable to move ahead to the next step of my life.
Hogwash! Back to the task at hand (or foot, as it were).
Love me, love my Danskos
Knowing it would be a long, hard search, I went shoe-shopping recently wearing my second most comfortable pair of shoes. My most comfortable are my Danskos. Like a good friend I can always count on, anytime, day or night, my relationship with my Danskos (I’ve had four pairs to date) is more than shoe-love. This is shoe-marriage. Still they give my left arch a bit of trouble sometimes and don’t exactly go with everything. But sometimes I just don’t give a shit about that. Love me, love my Danskos. 
After three hours of stopping in practically every shoe-store in town, coming up empty-handed and unshod, I’d pretty much had enough. My feet hurt. But today I wanted to make a sojourn to IKEA for a curtain rod, and it occurred to me that there is a large shopping center on the way with a few shoe stores, one of which has quite a large and atypical selection. Might as well stop there on the way, have a cup of Pike Place Roast (quite serendipitously the coffee of the week at Starbuck’s - Pike Place being in Seattle, and Seattle being the place where I bought my first pair of Danskos) and try my luck. 
This shopping center is a strange amalgamate of mall and open space. It seems like you’re inside, but in fact the glass roof is not sealed. People are smoking in what seems to be inside but is actually outside. Is it a mall, is it a barn? I’m not quite sure. At any rate, due to the construction of this monstrosity and the record low temperatures outside (or is it inside?), I was cold and wanting to get inside-inside as soon as possible. So, I ducked into a shoe store which has two entrances. Usually I enter through the grown-up section, but as the kids’ section entrance was closer, I went in there. Had it not been for these exact conditions, I would’ve gone in the other door, or maybe even gone to get my coffee first, but as luck would have it, I passed through the girls’ section where I saw them. Yes, them.
Girls’ shoe sizes stop at size 39 (that’s like 8.5 US). Depending on the shoe, I wear 39 or 40 (like the Prince song says, act your age, not your shoe-size, and this year I have reveled in saying “But my age IS my shoe size!!”). So, I was caught off-guard when I glanced to the left and saw the sole (ha-ha, get it? Sole? Shoes?? Oh.... stop me) pair of dark red suede boots on the sale rack in the kids’ section. Surely, they are too small for me, I thought. Turns out, they were ju-u-u-ust right.
Now, shoe-love isn’t as obvious as you might think. After all, like in the cases I’ve stated before, I went in looking for something else - in this case, a sturdy, warm, all-purpose yet stylish, not-too-boring boot, to be worn casually, but also maybe with a skirt, durable and comfortable enough for long walks, funky yet sexy, versatile, matches everything, good-looking, blond, blue-eyed, understanding with a sense of humor -- oh wait, I was getting my shoe-fantasy confused with my guy-fantasy again.
Where was I? Oh yes -- I went in looking for something else. In fact, because of my previous defeats, I’d just about given up on the shoe hunt altogether, and was just in it for the cup of coffee and curtain rod.  And what I found wasn’t tall, blond and blue-eyed (oops, there I go again... c’mon, Christy, the topic is shoes, not guys!). My new red boots aren’t from Camper or Simple, El Naturalista or Naot, Birkenstock, Rieker, Clark’s, Ecco or even Dansko. But still, somehow, they are comfortable. I am happy to say, I am in shoe-love once again.
Or at least shoe-crush.