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December 5, 2006

Nordstrom is in the business of conveying the impression that women love to buy shoes. For me, shoes are one of life’s little traumas. Whether mall or mail order, it’s not a happy thing. My feet and my spirit are at constant odds.

“They’re hideous.”

“They’re very practical,” my husband asserts, trying to be consolatory. “Very Seattle. Everyone wears those.” Where does he go all day, Key Arena? I have no idea why he thinks those two points will work in the shoes’ favor when they don’t work for anything else.

He persists. “You look like Wonder Woman, and very feminine. Like a Ninja lawyer.”

“They look like British National Health, 1941, and you know it.”

But the reality is, various neuromuscular and skeletal issues have forced me to migrate from the lilt department to, ironically, the athletic department. My spine, knees, ankles, and feet have coalesced into an orthopedist’s dream. My first “Curious you can walk at all” X-rays came out in 1990. In my frame, the sawbones sees his long-awaited 80′ yacht. But for now, other complicating issues make sensible shoes a more practical way station. But they’re still hideous.

Suffice to say, that if I find shoes in which I can walk from the car to the door without something giving way, I have found shoes that look like ones the teenage boys in my church are wearing. That does little for my morale, and possibly even less for the boys’.

I’m a verbal person, not so much visual, and visualization exercises are useless to me. I don’t see myself in snazzy red heels as I pad about in athletic shoes. I can wear dresses and try to visualize my shoes comporting to a consistent visual scheme, but it’s hopeless. My future in lilt is behind me.

I picked up an issue of Arthritis Today with a feature on fashion shoes for arthritics while waiting in the Cat’s vet’s office last summer. It was ridiculous. Heels like spindles, pointed toes, unstable platforms, unsupported flats…if I could wear those shoes, I could run the five miles to the vet with the 17.25-pound Cat on my shoulders, too. The cunning buckles on one pair were suggestive of “some assembly required” warnings.

Now, I do think of women who would be thrilled to have shoes like mine and not consider it erosive on their sense of style. Swiss women hike in long dresses and stout hiking boots. Many would be comforted and happy to have the protection from cold, and from hazards of the land. And there is Sr. Miguel, whose toes had to be amputated after his accident. I am one of the most pampered and fortunate ones of the earth. Life could certainly be worse than not liking one’s shoes because they look funny with dresses. So much worse.

Yet, my unappeasable, groaning spirit misses the lilt. I think I miss the lilt more than I miss not having the pain in my spine, my knees, and the nerves of my feet. What is this lure of the lilt, anyway? Vanity. Vain attempts at contesting the providence of the appointed circumstances of one’s health and aging process.

We are so unlikely to see either snazzy heels or sneakers in glory. Nothing then will be hideous, and I think it likely that cadence and lilt will in some form persevere.

But for now, I miss shoes with lilt.

And so, I invoke once more the Preacher:

Say not thou, What is the cause that the former days were better than these? for thou dost not enquire wisely concerning this. Ecclesiastes 7:10


HZ said…
Hilarious. And sad.I can picture you as ninja lawyer. So can Zack. He would like to run with the cat on his back to the vet for you.
8:00 AM  
Mrs. B said…
Oh, that would be so nice. I’d even get him one of those doggy wheelie scooters. They’d be such a team.
8:36 AM  
Victorbravo said…
Ninjas have their own kind of rhythm.I still defend the shoes. They give a kinder, gentler lilt. Those sidewalks used to recede in terror when we pounded on them at 6.5 mph. And then our knees would hurt.
9:00 AM  
Mrs. B said…
You win. Those memories are worse to think upon than my shoes are to look upon; and, I will always carry them in my shins and ankles.
9:31 AM  
imagmom said…
It IS hard when we think of what once was and what now is. But more important to remember is what could be.I know you are thankful that, however painful and unattractively adorned your feet may be, you have feet to walk upon.They carry you to public worship where nobody cares if you aren’t wearing those snazzy red heels.

Of all the things I have lost (my sense of taste and smell for instance) I am all the more thankful for the things that I still have (sight, touch, feet that carry me.)

I was once paralyzed so I guess I can see the value in feet that will still carry the body even though they now wear shoes that aren’t as pretty as they used to wear.

This is where our theology meets the road. And it’s a tough road at times but we have glorious theology with promises and comfort to carry us through the toughest of times.

Besides, who looks at your feet? Perhaps if you wore a distractingly odd hat, no one would ever notice what kind of shoe you wore.

11:27 AM  
Mrs. B said…
Very beautifully, touchingly, and aptly said, Imagmom. Yes, I am so very grateful to have my sight and hearing (the latter super-acute, no less) and the ability I do have to get around. After all, why miss the days when cute shoes mattered? Those weren’t the days of grace and acceptance of me as a child of the very God. I’ve no reason to hobble myself to be cute to my brethren who love me in Christ. And that would go a fortiori for the other people I encounter, who test my cosmophobia.It’s tempting, but I won’t take you up on the odd hat. Unless you consider my “czarina” hat odd; but even that I remove unless I’m having a little episode underneath it.
11:59 AM  
Rachel said…
Personally, I have never found the British National Health 1941 look bad at all. Rather, I think it is classy. Like Pearls and bobbed hair…Maybe my optimism over the 1940’s style clouds everything. Would you have an accent? Love you!
10:19 PM  
Mrs. B said…
You’re a dear girl, Rachel. Pearls and black space sneakers could be the hit of the day. Somewhere. :)
6:32 AM  

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