A few months ago, as I was browsing the shoe department of some corporate department in my corporate mall, I came across several pair of high-heeled pumps with open work through the body of the shoe. "Those are pretty," I thought. "I would like to own shoes like that."
Then I thought, "Wait a minute. I used to own shoes like that."
And then I thought, "Actually, I am pretty sure I still own shoes like that."
So I went home and checked my closet and sure enough, up on the top shelf, housed in the box they came in, was a pair of blue open-worked high-heeled pumps that I was entirely smitten with when I first bought them--after all, just look at their graceful proportions! Just look at that cool color!
I know that the most common colors for shoes are black and some shade of brown, largely because those are the most practical colors. (I wonder if they're also the easiest to achieve? If black cattle are used to make black shoes, or if leather is always dyed and treated, no matter what the hide of the animal who gave up its skin looked like when the animal was alive?) But given how much I enjoy colorful shoes, like this pretty red pair or this unusual green pair, I wonder why I don't buy them more often.
Or, why, after I buy them, I so often let them sit in my closet. I didn't wear this pair for about a decade, because A) they were fairly out of style and B) they're a somewhat unusual shade, and I haven't always had clothes that matched them in both shade and style; or C) even when I've had dress-up clothes that looked right with them, for much of the past 15 years I've lived places where I have little opportunity to wear rather delicate shoes like this, needing instead sturdy boots most of the time.
But I was so happy to rediscover them, discover that they still fit, discover that they were still flattering, discover that shoes just like this perfectly serviceable pair I already owned were appearing in stores, that I resolved to find an outfit they looked good with and wear them right away.
And I did. I've worn them to a couple of functions lately, most recently to the wedding of a student whose thesis I'd supervised. It was both a lovely wedding and a really fun party (which made me think, just as the wedding in Belgium had, about how joyless and utilitarian Mormon receptions usually are, but that's a topic for another post). The bride was beautiful; the setting was lovely; the food was good; the alcohol was plentiful and free; and while the DJ was fairly lousy, people (including me) danced anyway.
It was such a fun party, in fact, that people found it hard to leave, and stuck around even after the bar closed and the DJ packed up. The weather had not been ideal--it had sprinkled during the ceremony, which was in the morning--but by late afternoon it was simply a cool, slightly overcast, pleasant day. A group of people were enjoying the garden while waiting for the bride to finish changing out of her dress so we could say good-bye, chatting about nothing in particular. As there had been an entire group of women who'd had to shed their shoes when the dancing started, to avoid injury either to ankles or the shoes themselves, the topic moved soon enough to tired feet and the footwear that causes them. Compliments on shoes were exchanged. When someone praised mine, I said, "Thanks. I dragged them out of hibernation in my closet not too long ago. They're really old."
"How old?" one of my students asked. He sounded skeptical, though I couldn't imagine why he wouldn't believe me.
"Older than you," I said.
"Really?" he asked. Again, there was a skepticism I didn't understand. "When did you get them?"
"1984," I said.
He laughed. "Yeah, they really are older than me."
And that's what I was left with: the fact that even though many of my students are adults who are old enough to buy alcohol, I still have shoes older than they are.