Sunday, October 05, 2008

Hats and Shoes

When the kids were little, they had an extensive collection of hats for dress-up. There were fire fighter hats, and train driver hats, hard hats, and baseball caps and one really huge sombrero. I'm sure there were more; it seems, in my memory, that it took a really long time at night to get them all picked up. The kids used these hats as props in their play -not the tiniest bit constrained by details of what the hat was supposed to be for. However the hats were used, though, they were clues and cues for meaning. It occurred to me last night that shoes have come to fill that same role in my life.

Yes, shoes. I'm not a girly-girl by any stretch of the imagination, but I do have kind of a lot of shoes. Last night, Victoria and I dressed up A LOT and went to the ballet (The Kirov was doing Giselle in Chicago). It goes without saying that she was stunning; I was a little brown wren who drove the car and glared at all the men who stared at her. But by my standards, I was wildly dressed up -and the shoe thing became important. I had pretty brown pleated-fabric pumps with an insane heel. Not the shoes you'd choose for trekking around Chicago. Needless to say, there was a certain amount of grimacing. Then I watched ballerinas en pointe for 2 hours. Ummm.... Andrea? Shut up about your feet hurting.

So I started to think about the shoes-for-roles thing. I have pointe shoes in the back of my closet, from a long-ago life. I don't use them. Even the thought of it makes my feet hurt, but I don't want to give the shoes away, either. I have my TEVA sandals and my clogs -much more "me" than the pumps. I have rock climbing shoes -in their own way as uncomfortable as the pointe shoes or the pumps. I have gym shoes and beach sandals and work shoes and play shoes and bike shoes and flip-flops for the pool. I'm sure there are more.

In fact, I got busted on this one -shoes as a sign of social class. Seriously, by modern girl standards, I don't have that many shoes. But one of the homeless residents of the shelter I work at asked me, with some incredulity, how many shoes did I HAVE???? My response? "I have no idea." Could I have thought of a more insulting answer if I'd worked at it??? I doubt it. I really do have no idea, but if I'd made up a number it would at least have meant that they mattered to me. As it is, I indicated (incorrectly) that I can have as many shoes as I want and don't have to think about them. Excellent move, Andrea :(

But let's leave aside the social justice questions -to say nothing of the feminist questions of why women subject themselves to uncomfortable shoes for beauty- and see if we can come up with something here. Do the shoes in my closet tell me something about the person I am becoming? More career-focused than before, for sure. I'm not really sportier (still working on this one), but I have decided that I deserve the tools for the sports I love.

And today? So far, it's just been the rock climbing shoes (excruciating after the torture of last night, but I thought of the ballerinas and soldiered on) and now my trusty TEVAs. Gotta love 'em.

No comments: