The other day we went to a St. Patrick's Day potluck dinner. It was a very nice dinner, with good people and delicious food, but this story has nothing to do with all that.
Our hostess, Emily, complimented me on my shoes.
"Oh, there's a story behind these shoes," I laughed.
They are gorgeous shoes. Silver and beaded, they are shaped like a ballerina flat, but with a very small heel that makes a satisfying "click" whenever I walk in them. Wearing these shoes makes me feel a little taller, a little thinner, and a lot more confident.
It was May 2005. I was working at a job I hated, for a boss I couldn't stand. I would end up quitting in November, although the fact it took me that long is only a testament to my stubbornness, even in the face of complete misery.
But in May, I was still trying to make it work. I flew to Seattle for this big conference, where a web project I'd been working my fingers to the boneon was being unveiled. After the conference, I was going to hop on a plane for Boston, for one of my best friend's bachelorette party. I felt like a jet-setting career woman. I could have been an extra on "Sex and the City."
It should have been great! Instead, despite all of my efforts, the big project was still only limping along with poor usability. And the parts that did work? My loathsome boss took all the credit for, after doing little of the actual work. I was inside this huge conference center all day long, with barely any time for sightseeing. My two cohorts, who were in the boss's good graces, managed to slip off for more of the day for shopping, eating, etc.
By the final day in Seattle, I'd had enough. I took a short lunch break and ran out to a large department store nearby. I was going to find a souvenir, dammit. An extravagant purchase that I would never make back home. Something good would come of this trip!
I had to decide quickly. Time was of the essence, and there would be no time for waffling. And then, cruising around the first floor shoe department, I saw them. With almost a toothpaste commercial gleam to their slightly upturned toes. I grabbed a salesman, asked him to bring the two most likely sizes, tried them on and bought a pair.
I ran back to the hotel, threw the bag on the bed, and was back at the conference booth in time to hear my boss patting herself on the back once again for all of her hard work. But this time, it didn't bother me so much. The conference was nearly over, I would soon be headed across the country for a weekend of light-hearted revelry, and I had a fabulous new pair of shoes.
Of course, the trip to Boston was not smooth-sailing. There was a mix-up about whether I was getting into town on my own, or if someone was coming to pick me up. I found out I was expected to get there myself and got directions for public transport ... which were wrong.
After waiting a half-hour for the wrong bus, I found the right bus, which took me to the train, which took me to a stop a short walk from my destination. I was weighed down by a significant amount of luggage, particularly one large suitcase of work clothes that were, at this point, useless to me. That case, of course, got stuck in the turnstyle while leaving the train station, and I ended up twisting the handle to get it out, thereby making later retraction of the handle impossible.
But I got to the apartment. The one-bedroom apartment which would be housing over 10 women that weekend. I shoved my bags into one corner of the living room and pulled out my new shoes. It was time to break them in!
The bachelorette party weekend turned out to be fun and frustrating in equal measures. It was fantastic to see everyone—most of whom I hadn't seen in months. But it was Boston, and everything was expensive, and people always decide to just "split the check evenly" for the sake of ease, when you didn't order 2 glasses of wine and an appetizer, unlike some .... I insisted on wearing the shoes most of the weekend, even after they gave me blisters the first night when traipsing from dinner to club to another club back to the apartment.
When leaving the apartment for that first dinner, we passed another building resident out front. She stared at my mesmerizing shoes, turning to continue watching as we walked away.
"I love your shoes!" she called. "Where did you get them?"
I smiled. "Seattle!"
So whenever I wear those shoes, and particularly when I get compliments on them (which happens often), it makes me smile. To me, the shoes signify finding the silver lining and retaining the good memories long after the annoyance of the bad ones fades. I quit that horrible job and the awful boss is just a distant memory. The credit card statement for the financially disastrous Boston trip is long ago paid and filed. But the friendships and the shoes live on!
* Image courtesy of Charmed Silver Shoes.