I love shoes. Really. Really. Really. Love. Shoes. In the last few years, I’ve noticed that my philosophy of life and regret is strongly ties to three distinct pairs of shoes.
The Blue Suede Hush Puppies
In high school, I had these bright, light blue suede Hush Puppies. They were amazingly comfortable. They were amazingly bright blue. They were amazingly unstylish yet amazingly awesome. When I started college, I left the blue shoes at home and embarked upon creating my new, adult self. I left the shoes in my closet. For years. And years. Somewhere around my last year of college or right thereafter, Hush Puppies came into style. I asked my mom if she remembered the shoes and if she could find them. She did remember. She could only find one. Whenever I went home, I’d comb that closet for the shoes but only ever found one. Every few months, I think about how much I’d love to have them and think fondly of them. This kind of regret is the one where taking something for granted leads to a sense of loss. If only I’d never relied on others for my sense of what is awesome, I think. If only I’d just kept wearing them and kept track of them.
The White Lace Up Boots with Writing on Them
Between my second and third year in college, I interned in Washington, D.C. My favorite store in Georgetown, the now defunct Commander Salamander, was an eye-opening experience of alternative culture. Punk and Hello Kitty… It was Hot Topic before Hot Topic really caught on culturally. I would walk into the store every weekend and just window shop to my heart’s content. As an intern, I had no real money. I was working, taking classes, going to house parties. Towards the end of the summer, I walked in and saw a pair of Doc Martin style high top lace up boots. I can still see them when I close my eyes. White boots covered entirely in writing. I can,t remember what the writing was pr what the brand was. The boots were somewhere in the $100-$150 range. Way out of my price range. I lusted over them. I tried them on. I looked at them again. I put them back. When my parents picked me up to take me home, I dragged them into Commander Salamander. I showed my mom the boots, which we both admitted were highly impractical. I took one last look behind me and sighed goodbye. Of course, today I’d be able to go online and buy them, probably. However, this was in the day before Amazon, back when people believed nothing would ever replace brick and mortar shops. As with he Hush Puppies, I often look in my shoe closet and wish these shoes were sitting there, waiting for me to put them on. I think about what outfits they would match, from time to time. This is the regret of the “what if?” What if I hadn’t been so practical? What if I had just asked if I could borrow money from my parents? What if I had thrown caution to the wind?
In 2007, my husband had a work trip to San Francisco. As sometimes happened back then, we found a cheap airfare for me, added a day on either side of his meeting, paid the extra days, and took a mini vacation to a city we wanted to visit together. I booked us on a winery tour, because, Napa. The bus made a stop at some little shopping area. One of the stores had a pair of four inch Manolo heels. I tried them on for giggles. I fell in love. They were expensive. $500 of expensive. But, we were childless at the time. We were in a weird, stressful place in life. I loved them. I loved the “click click” noise. I loved the way they made my ankles and calves feel sexy. I loved that, for four inch stiletto heels, they were comfortable. My husband told me to splurge. We were on vacation, he said. They make you feel good, he said. They’re sexxxxxxy, he said. And so, against my better judgement, I thought back to the white boots from DC. The ones I had always wanted but never bought. The ones I still regretted, all those years later. I didn’t think any further. I brought the shoes to the register. I plopped down my card. I closed my eyes and signed my name. For three months, I wore those shoes everywhere. Sometimes, I’d just wear them around the house because, well, they were a lot of money. I wore them teaching. I wore them to parties. I wore them to weddings. Every time I wore them, I felt powerful. These days, I wear them for special occasions. They aren’t practical for teaching. They aren’t practical for volunteering at an elementary school or playing on the playground. They’re packed away carefully i. Shoe bags and a shoe box to keep them protected. They look as wonderful today as they did the day I bought them. I’ve never regretted that moment of impulse. I think about them, know they’re there, fondly relive that trip. These are the moments I need to work on having more of. These are the moments that we give caution to the wind – where acting won’t hurt us but where inaction would. These are the moments I want to preserve – the moments where I know that what I’m doing isn’t the smartest or most decision, where seizing the moment is outside my comfort zone but harbors no long term negative outcomes.
Whenever I think of how I want to look back at my life when I’m old, I want to smile fondly, go to the room in my mind where ,y memories live and find a closetful of Manolos without being sad that there aren’t any blue suede shoes or white combat boots.