Sole sister

My niece’s toes in my favorite kind of shoes. Photo by my sister.

Today we’re taking a stroll with my twin sister down her (fond) memory lane of footwear. The post below is hers.

I hold onto my shoes, far too long perhaps, because I am unable to separate with them.

Each of the 54 pairs I carefully covet has carried me somewhere; whether it be down the aisle at my own wedding, through the snow when sledding with my daughter, or painfully across the campus of the university where I earned my degree 16 years ago…yes, I still have those blister-causing beauties. “Vanity knows no pain” my grandmother would say.

Sometimes the look is more important than the logic.

As a child, I coveted a pink and white pair of saddle shoes, adorned with the Cabbage Patch Kids emblem…until a neighborhood friend brought a garden snake into our basement. Those shoes – and that snake who attempted to take up residence in them – lost their soles that day.

At 4, I wore a particular pair of high-heeled sandals until the buckle broke and when it did, I began to sob. My precious Grandpa – who was well-heeled for the task – drove me to the shoe repair shop at the speed of light in his two-door gold Cadillac to get them fixed that very day.

For my 8th birthday, that same Grandpa bought me a pair of white cowgirl boots from Montgomery Ward that I had admired for weeks. I wore those boots until they weren’t made for walking anymore, their underbellies filled with holes. I loved them so much that I wore them to bed more than once, and got in trouble for it.

I once selected some blue and white boy’s Reebok tennis shoes for school, because they were like my Dad’s. On warm days, we’d wear them with shorts and during school days, it was as though I was able to walk in his shoes.

My sister and my other bridesmaids were forced to suffer through my wedding; their feet festooned with a pair of painfully gorgeous raisin-colored sandals, bedazzled with copper beads. When the wedding was over… I stole my sister’s pair from her.

(In actuality, my sister made her own vow that day at my wedding: she kicked those shoes off of her feet the very minute she got back down the aisle and swore never to wear them again. Now they’re mine.)

The first time I met my stepdaughter, she sat down next to me, took off her tiny white tennis shoes and put them on my dinner plate.

At 27, when I found out I was pregnant, the first thing I bought for my baby was a pair of Patagonia booties. That baby, now 10, has developed a healthy shoe addiction of her own.

One could say, shoes give my life direction. I use them as metaphors. I use them for confidence. I use them to start off my day on the ‘right foot.’ Even when the world seems like a grim place, a fun or favorite pair of shoes can bring a little sunshine to my day .

When dealing with others, I do my best to apply the philosophy of walking a mile in another person’s shoes. When making decisions, I proverbially ‘put the shoe on the other foot’ to look at something from all angles.

But, I always seem to be waiting for the other shoe to drop. I worry about EVERYTHING. I worry about getting sick. I worry about my husband’s insomnia. I worry about getting fired. I worry if my daughter eats healthily enough. I worry about my family. My friends. My coworkers. And my coworkers’ children. I worry that the other kids will figure out that my baby niece is smarter than they are. (Too bad, she is.)

I wish I could buy the fastest pair of running shoes to get me away from all of those worries. But I can’t. It’s who I am.

So, I’ll just sit back, take a deep breath, and take it one step at a time…wearing a great pair of shoes, of course.

Thank you, sweet sibling, for this turn (and these turns of phrase) in your shoes! 

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