Wednesday, April 6, 2011

three and a half inches

I have a graveyard of high heels in a suitcase upstairs. Almost none are expensive; most are disposable, almost. The red ones? On sale, $3.88 at Target, they boast. Bronze with scalloped edges and peep toes? I bought them in Cincinnati, and almost lost them after a night of corn hole, too much Guinness and too much...Wayne. You know there was some kind of judgement lapse when you end up in some guy named Wayne's apartment and can't find your shoes the next morning.

I first willed myself to walk in unsteady heels in college; it seemed like a rite of passage into womanhood, some tangible proof of sexual maturation. I strode bravely across slippery linoleum floors and uneven cement sidewalks, onto aging brick walkways, only to get a heel stuck between a few bricks and suddenly be traipsing around campus, half-barefoot. No one told me that I would need a sense of humor, too.

And so the heels, they sat in my cozy closet, giggling among each other, begging for sisters, for socialization. They multiplied. I needed a bigger closet.

I got a bigger closet. They went out and partied, brought new friends home. They travelled to Austria's snowy winter streets; they politely braved five hours in standing room during Parsifal on the floor beside my ankles. In Italy they modestly climbed narrow cobblestone sidewalks, paling among the other shoes, among a million brunettes dyed blonde and the eighty-year old Italian grandma riding her vespa in five-inch stilettos and a tight camouflage-print dress.

The heels flourished in Florence, but they had a rough time with the whole pre-med transition. It just wasn't as fun as opera, and suddenly, they were out of place. They weren't welcome in my neuroscience lab, and made me feel like a stereotypical diva in my calculus class. So, sadly, the heels were slowly tossed aside for a beaten pair of Salomon trail runners or my old Dansko clogs.

After I graduated, the heel neglect only worsened. I started working at a chichi nursing home and seemed to have residents accidentally urinating or spilling coffee on my feet on an almost daily basis. By the time I wandered into the parking lot at the end of each day, under the glow of street lamps swarmed by moths, my shoes became sloppy sweat receptacles after fourteen hours of running up and down the hardwood stairs, Oxycodone in hand, of that four-story mansion.

The heels figured their situation couldn't get any more awful, but, well, they were wrong. I moved out into the cabin in the woods. They had to venture across the gravel, not asphalt, driveway. They braved the puddle-luscious spring, only to occasionally become engulfed by the slurping mud. They calmly awaited their death on the kitchen floor next to our two-year old shepherd, who ultimately gnawed apart half a dozen pairs during her developmental "shoe fetish" period.

After I became pregnant, my feet became so flattened under the bulk of "Cletus the fetus" that the heels seemed to have reached an entirely new level of impracticality. I listlessly gathered the remaining survivors, threw them into a suitcase, and shoved it in the corner, where they sat undisturbed and forgotten for quite some time.

I look at it now, as I clean out the pile of junk in that corner, and wonder:

Who the hell am I?

(and what do I do with all these shoes?)


  1. You know this is an awesome med school essay about your life! :) I love it! (that's what you should do with all these "shoes"!)

  2. Great metaphor!

    I read the part about the oxycodone and thought to myself, now THAT is what I would need to take to get my feet back into some of the heels I've bought over the years. Damn bunions. Sneakers and Danskos rock. Welcome to the most awesome phase of your life.

  3. Totally agree with all above statements.

    Especially K--what a GREAT idea.

    It'd knock their socks (ahem, shoes!) off. =)