The last couple of weeks have been hectic, for want of a better word. So I’m posting something that I wrote for When Women Waken, an online literary journal. When I wrote this I had no intention of doing anything with it, it was purely therapy, a way of getting some kind of order to how I was feeling. But here it is.
I love shoes. This is no secret. My husband rolls his eyes, my daughters marvel at how many I own, and the fact that I have a couple of pairs that I’ve never even worn. They are still in my possession because of their sheer beauty.
It’s a bit of a cliché for a woman to love shoes. There’s a hint of shallowness about it. People joke about women who talk about shoes and handbags, and as if the title Chick Lit wasn’t patronising enough for books written by women, for women, there is always a shoe somewhere on the cover. If you like shoes and handbags and make up and boys, then you can’t possibly have a proper, serious thought in your head.
Of course, I am an intelligent woman. I love lots of other things too, there are many sides to my personality and it annoys me that someone might hear me say something flippant about shoes and judge me for it. But then it’s quite likely they’ve already judged me about something else, like the colour of my hair or the length of my skirt. I have no control over that..
I like buying shoes, I like smelling new shoes. I look at old, worn shoes and push them back into the cupboard, not wanting to throw them away because they have happy memories. One day I might need their happy power to get me through a day I’m dreading. I have shoes that remind me of when I was pregnant. They are flat and more worn down at the heel than the others. I have shoes that remind me of people, of who I was with when I bought them; not just physically or in a relationship sense, but who I was thinking about when I bought them, who I pictured myself wearing them with. The two aren’t necessarily the same
I have shoes that I’ve worn to weddings that made me walk funny, shoes I’ve worn to weddings that have been discarded at the side of dance floors. Shoes I’ve worn to weddings where the shoes have lasted longer than the actual marriage. I love them all. Until now, this week. When I had to buy funeral shoes.
It felt shallow that within days of hearing about a friend dying, I was wondering what shoes I should wear. I’ve been lucky, I haven’t been to a funeral for a long time, the last time was when I was heavily pregnant and wore some old black boots under maternity trousers because they were comfortable and nobody looked any further down than my huge belly. But this time, I wont be able to get away with it. I don’t own any black shoes. I have brown, beige, blue and even leopard print. But no black.
So for the first time I didn’t get excited when they were delivered. I didn’t enjoy unwrapping the tissue paper, didn’t enjoy trying them on and walking around my bedroom. They have been placed next to the wardrobe, the wardrobe that contains the black funeral dress. They look stark and sinister and spiky against my pale carpet. They suck all the happiness from the room. I will not get a thrill from wearing them for the first time. I will not keep looking down at them throughout the day to remind myself how fabulous they are. They will purely be things that are on my feet and right now, right at this minute, I hate shoes.