Cafe Manager / Mother
My thought and emotion evoking shoes would be my red Born mary janes. I wondered, when we were in Ames at your sister's graduation if you would ask me which soles most touched my soul :p My red mary janes were my immediate thought. I've kept the choice tucked away awaiting your invitation to participate. Now their story will be told. I thought of them partially because they are my favorite shoes of ALL time and partly because of what recently happened to them.
Why was it love at first sight when I saw them? Well, the mary jane part is natural. Mary janes are my style. As I like to view myself, they are sweet and gentle, stylish and versatile. The red color is also easy to understand. In the last two decades plus, red has become my "power color." It's not my favorite color, but my punch color. It's occasional appearance in my house, like a red pillow or my basket of red throw blankets punches out a smile inside me on a day that feels more blah. My red kitchen aid mixer punched me into making monster bars at 2 am, no matter how weary, because they were necessary to some event in your school day. Or a red purse, my favorite being the one you bought me in Italy, feels joyful on my shoulder as I go about the most mundane of tasks or as I celebrate a monumental occasion. Red is a confident color, a bold color, a festive color, a "punch" color. It energizes, it propels. The red mary janes were punch power in any walk and joy in any journey. They were an accessory for confidence that I could add to any moment. And because they were my "perfect" shoe, I tended to save them.
I didn't see any issue with that. If I wore them OCCASIONally, not day in and day out, they would last forever, right? They were a quality, lasting kind of brand. The leather they were made of was a dream. It was a good plan. My heart was confident. I'd had them for 15 years. My plan was working. They continued to brighten my being each time I slipped them on my feet. Then last fall everything changed. In a moment, all that I had believed possible was suddenly altered.
I was invited to a wedding in South Carolina. After years of being away from the state and friends that I adore, one of those dear friends invited me to her daughters' wedding. As I packed for the journey back, I knew that there would be a post-wedding Sunday morning brunch. I excitedly packed a new bargain dress from TJ Maxx. It was navy and white striped with a precious lace strip feminizing the vertical center. What shoes should I wear? Of COURSE, the red mary janes! Just the punch I needed. The sweet finish. And since I was attending the wedding and surrounding events by myself, they would be like a friend. Someone to carry me along thru possible awkward moments that I would pretend were not awkward at all.
The wedding on Saturday was beyond lovely. I woke Sunday morning very excited about my invite to the smaller brunch event and about seeing my dear friends again. I put on my dress and shoes. Perfect. It was an outdoor brunch. I pulled up and parked and walked across the grasses' morning dew. I remember having protective thoughts about my shoes but dismissed those as quickly as they came. These shoes were strong. They'd remained beautiful thru all kinds of circumstances. I briskly walked towards the charming brunch setting, excited about the menu of Shrimp and Grits and other elegant southern delicacies. Then it happened. My security underfoot (literally) fell apart. The sole of my beloved mary janes, just on one foot mind you, fell apart mid-step. There had been no indication of trouble. No weaknesses. No splits. No apparent defect in my plan for their "shoe life" with me. The sole of the left shoe was in multiple pieces. Unwearable and unwalkable. I bent down, took them off, and tucked them behind my back. Change of plans. Barefoot brunch it is then! Sigh. I had to go on of course, but I was devastated about my dearest shoes. This was not the way things were supposed to go.
So, as I thought of shoes that evoked emotion, this is how I tie these shoes to that thought. Even tho in life there are things that we love, that we adore more than most; we can't really plan on those things being there forever. It's natural to want to treasure something we love. To have it near us always. And in our heart of hearts, it can be and always will be. But it isn't our right to always have it "underfoot." No matter how much we want those most precious things to stay the same, they are going to change. Sometimes changes are small and virtually undetectable. Sometimes they are sharp and swift and devastating. Sometimes they hold a new joy that you didn't see coming and couldn't have possibly imagined. A joy that lights up every part of your being. Those are the changes that I want to walk toward.
HOWEVER, as I do walk in that direction; towards the sweet and joy-filled changes in life, this is really the most important thing to know. To live in the moment. To not get too caught up in the plans. Because your soul/sole may split in ways you don't anticipate and those plans will have to change anyway. Live and breathe in the day you are in. Love as much as you can in any given moment because that is what makes all the difference. Be it a stranger that needs to be "seen" or someone you have loved for a while. Keep loving EVERY day. In all the little ways that you can. It's the little things cumulatively that change the "big picture."
You may stand at one point in your "red mary janes" and feel perfectly outfitted for your day and end the day unexpectedly barefooted. It's all good. It will be ok. Just keep going. Live in today. Keep praying. Have passion and compassion. Love at every chance. Walk towards the next unexpected joy.