Friday's link-up writing prompt this week at The Red Dress Club was "shoes" (max 625 words). Mine is a little bit story, a little bit memory, and a little bit reflection on just how important shoes can be.
There are more wonderful stories to be found if you click on the link.
(I promise more photos over the weekend!)
I still miss her some days.
Okay, a lot of days.
She was energetic and fearless and could find fun anywhere. She would go running across campus alone at night, just to clear her head and breathe. It drove her cop friends crazy. Oh, they weren't really worried about her safety, she was strong and young and even before she became a self-defense instructor she could handle herself. They had seen her in action both with drunks in the middle of the night and Vice Presidents at committee meetings during the day.
She had these perfect blue Addidas running shoes. They matched very little of her wardrobe, but what they did match was her belief that she couldn't fail, even though she had never been a runner before. It took her months to find a pair that made running not completely suck and once she found them, she bought three pairs. One pair for outside trails and track, for running 5K events to raise money for causes, and for keeping her friends company on their daily routines. One pair was for the rainy day treadmill grind when she would pop in her earbuds and zone out for the required miles of the day. On those days she focused more on her breathing and just surviving the run. But she would do it to prove to herself she could and eventually because her job would depend on it.
The last pair was a backup. That third pair was more an emotional backup than anything else. It was a symbol to her that she would always keep running and need yet another pair of perfect shoes down the road.
She loved to dress up, sometimes to go out, sometimes just to feel good for the day. She loved shopping of all kinds, but shoe shopping came with an extra little boost of energy. She had a classic style. I think she never really felt like she fit into trendy and couldn't completely give up the suburban Eddie Bauer look. Her favorite kicks were brown lace-up, hard soled cowboy boots, even though she was never a farm girl. She worn them unapologetically with her khakis and polo shirts and they silently projected her fun, but strong personality.
She had scores of heels, a weakness for sure, but the navy pumps got the most wear. They weren't stilettos or pointy toes, even when that was all the rage. They were traditional and slightly practical and would never go out of style. She was one of the few staffers who wore dresses even when the workday didn't call for one. She balanced being thoroughly girly with having grown up a little-bit tomboy.
She knew before everyone else she was going to have to leave, to let someone new take over. She had been making subtle changes over the years, ones no one really noticed. She stopped wearing the heels so often, and chose pantsuits. She had difficulty finding "just the right shoes" a little more each time she tried. And before she left, even though she knew she'd never use them again, she couldn't let go of that last pair of perfect running shoes. She couldn't let go of who she had been in them.
It's funny, what a pair of shoes can mean.