There’s just something about a heel.
The first real heels I wore were little woven 4-inch platform numbers my grandmother had bought in Greece. They’d been gathering dust in her closet as her ankles weakened, and finally, on an unnamed summer day, she offered them to my mother (who was too practical to wear them), who in turn, offered them to me (who was not a bit too practical to wear them).
I wore them MINUTELY.
They were my pride and joy. My 8th grade legs just towered in them, and they were different (they were Grecian!), and I loved being different (I loved being Grecian!). While other junior high girls were running in hallways, practicing cheerleading stunts, glue-gunning spirit week posters, I was focusing on one thing only: Deep breaths, Erin, stare straight ahead, do not fall down in your favorite shoes.
They were the best worst shoes in the world.
What I never did figure out was this:
That even though my favorite little platforms had made me smile, they’d kept me from doing much else. Walking was a chore, and I was far from graceful as I hugged the handrail to keep myself from toppling up and down staircases at church, school, friends’ homes.
After I’d worn them to pieces, after the wooden sole and the rattan finally separated in a dramatic wop, I’m sure I heard my mother and grandmother – everyone! – cheer for joy, sigh with relief.
The Grecian goddess was dethroned.
I’d no longer walk through life with my shoes wearing me, rather than me wearing my shoes.
I still have embarrassing recollections of that old Grecian goddess, and even now, when I wear heels, I still feel a bit like an 8th grader trying her best not to topple over.
Mostly, I stick with flats.
My friend introduced me to Born shoes years ago. I’d watched her at the Mexican restaurant, had seen her juggle three kids under five in the parking lot, had observed her striding gracefully in a block heel and striped dress.
You’re wearing heels! While chasing children? How does that even work?! I ask.
Oh, honey, these aren’t heels, she says. They’re Borns.
She was right.
When I think of the many restrictions I’ve placed on myself in the name of style, I cringe. Leather pants to a summer concert (so hot), white blouse to a rib festival (so, so messy), uncomfortable shoes to a conference (so, so, so many Band-Aids).
Surely they’re a small price to pay to acquire Grecian Goddess status, right?
I know better.
Sometimes I choose fashion. (I always regret it.)
Sometimes I choose function. (I always regret it.)
Mostly, I choose both. I choose style and comfort, fashion and function.
Grecian goddess and 8th grade kid.
We don’t always, in life, get to have it all.
But sometimes, in shoes, we do.