Tossing another abandoned sweater onto a pile nearly as tall as my desk, I admired my new-found ability to just let go of things. I’m bad about spring cleaning, mainly because I’m a little messy by heart and in my space space, and for my knack of attaching sentimental value to every knick-knack I own.
But this year is different — I couldn’t wait to clean out my suitcases and closet to switch from those bitter winter days to the bright summery ones, so I spent Saturday night in doing just that. With a race Sunday at 8:30 a.m., I gave myself permission to be boring and have a date with Mr.Windex and his friend the handsome broom instead of eyeing the crowd downtown.
As I went through my red suitcases — the ones that have been with me from day one in NYC — I found dresses I haven’t worn since I moved, bags so tattered they barely had straps and shoes without heels at all. Thinking of all the things I could buy if I just had more space (and um, money), I folded up what I didn’t want and hung up what I did, trying hard not to imagine dream scenarios in dream outfits during the process.
But then, in the middle of my clean up, in the middle of N’Sync playing on my 90s pop hits Pandora radio station (not ashamed), I came across those heels.
The heels that I didn’t wear at all last year since I couldn’t: the clasp is broken, the heel is unsteady and the shoe, admittedly highly uncomfortable. The heels that I once considered my own version of Cinderella slippers, bringing a love affair into my life with one simple stumble. The shoes that I thought I would keep no matter what, since they were the reason I met Mr. Possibility in the first place.
Right before I made the leap to Manhattan, I exchanged an incredibly ugly necklace (from yes, an ex) in for some cold hard store credit. Since the place doesn’t exist above the Mason-Dixon, I had to use it before my flight. Shopping around the aisles of things I didn’t want, I found one thing that I did: a brown pair of four-inch Jessica Simpson slingbacks that made my legs look killer. I instantly fell in love and easily used that gift card for them, determined to stomp the sparkly pavements, making my impression.
I was right– they eventually would make quite the first impression eight months later on that bus where I tripped in them, right in front of Mr. Unavailable, who as we all know, would ultimately become the impossible Mr. Possibility.
I walked those heels to death with any opportunity to any event or any short skirt that begged attention. Mr. P would comment on them before we went out: “Are those the shoes? Are you going to be able to stand?” He would tease me and I would promise to wear them with grace, and threaten to wear them on our wedding day, where I’d purposefully fall at the alter, making a scene just for us.
I don’t remember packing them up and tucking them away under my bed last fall — there is never enough room in any NYC closet for more than one season. But I did, even though they are entirely unwearable. Maybe then I still held onto the hope that they’d mean something more to me than Mr. P or that we would eventually get back together and I’d be sad if I didn’t have them.
But looking at them on Saturday night, thinking about the memories that come with them, that follow my step, I didn’t feel like I needed them anymore. Nothing left to hang onto, nothing more I wanted with them. Just a pair of shoes that are taking up highly-valued space in a closet that needs to be decluttered. The cost of fixing them would outweigh what they are worth, and the cost of holding onto what they represent, even more emotionally expensive.
And so, away they went to charity. To a place where maybe, someone else will find some piece of something in them, just like I did.
The truth is, they never really gave me a solid footing here. There were always a little too high to walk up and down subway (or apparently, bus) steps, and too skinny to support constant commuting. Perhaps I wasn’t confident enough to own them in the way that a woman who knows herself can — marching along without thinking, without worrying about that crease in the road ahead or the water puddle you see on a clear day. Those shoes didn’t give me my grounding here, and as much as I like to give him credit, Mr. Possibility didn’t either. He helped guide me for a while by showing me the city I love and giving me a glimpse into the love I dream of — but just like those slingbacks that playfully taunted our relationship, something was never quite right. Never quite as strong as I’d like. Never quite as stable as I needed. The support just wasn’t quite there.
The next day post-race, I stopped by TJ Maxx to pick up some running shorts and somehow found myself in the shoe aisle, eyeing a new pair of my beloved brown slingbacks. But unlike the other, these have a thicker heel. They’re a little lower, and yes more practical. They fit me better and can endure the two-avenue walk from the train to my job — no change of flats required. I don’t trip over my own feet and I can move to my own beat, without worrying about what’s ahead or who I’ll come across.
And I like them better. The next time I sway and bend, it won’t be because of the heels, it’ll be because I’m finally sturdy enough to let myself fall.