<By Rebecca Beckum>
My grandmother was always a well heeled woman. She wore high heels and hose every day of her life until she died at ninety one. She felt that quality shoes were an essential investment for a woman and where the bulk of your wardrobe budget should be spent.
Years ago when I was in Atlanta, I saw the perfect pair of shoes for me. They were Stewart Weitzman, candy apple red stiletto fashioned in a patent luster. I love how they made me feel. I love how tall I stood in them and the gait I had with them on. I couldn’t afford them though. I’ve never forgotten them and I am always looking for them. If I were to see them one day, I would put them on plastic if I had to.
I have found in my life that some things are worth the interest.
While I had to leave this pair behind, my steps thereafter have been no less clad with style. It was a complicated decision narrowing down what collection would accompany me to Japan for the year. I settled on eighteen pair in the final edit. My first night in Tokyo led me afoot in a six hour hunt for my new apartment. I wore the soles of the previously unworn suede and embroidered flats off on the narrow and isolating streets as I searched on with a courageous strut.
The eighteen pair were worth the extra baggage fees at the airport and I learned that no shoemaker in this part of the world would craft a pair to fit my American supersized foot. I also found it painful to take in the tantalizing Japanese shoe season that year knowing that not a single pair would compliment my mammoth shoe size. . I was satisfied however to stand statuesque in my favorite American designers where I felt the earth rumble beneath my feet and I learned that you can survive on a smile as your only means of communication.
I became a savvier traveler by the time I moved to South America. I got the shoe count down to fourteen and from there to the essentials and a low maintenance twelve pair by the time I moved to Mexico. I remember being in the desert and tossing the thirteenth pair of multi hued pointy toe pumps in a dumpster by the check-in counter. I had hauled them around with me for long enough. They had been my favorites for so long but I knew it was time to say goodbye and embrace a new style.
I accepted my far from sample size feet when I moved to the Caribbean and shopped for open toe options for the first time in my life. It was liberating to wiggle my unsightly toes in that sand and to feel that heat beneath them. That rhythm moves them to this day.
When I came back home, I kicked off my heels one evening and signed up for an online dating site. I think I created my profile more for myself than to serve as an advertisement for men. It really gave me the opportunity to think about who I am and what I am looking for in a partner. I have never searched for guys online but rather let them come to me. I guess because I am still running in the league of women that prefer to be called than make the call themselves. I enjoy going through my inbox and the messages from strangers. Narrowing down candidates for online dates can become an exhausting process. I recently had a date planned with a guy from the “out of town” pool of contenders. As date night approached however, I became rather unmotivated to transform my look from haggard into fabulous after such a long week.
I was not sold on his profile. It was unremarkable to be honest, but I loved his messages to me. He messaged me the day before our date that he hoped “I was gorgeous and fascinating!” At 32, gorgeous is subject to opinion. Fascinating…. I was fairly certain I could deliver. He won me over when he wrote to me that “Many women can turn a man’s head, but very few can turn on his imagination.” Living up to someone’s imagination is a great deal of pressure so I cancelled.
The following Friday, the restaurant where he had held our reservation called and said that there was a mysterious package for me there. He found a pair of red stilettos while travelling to Mexico on business and thought they would make the perfect gift. I was hopeful as I opened the package, savoring the possibilities with each tear along with the staff from an entire restaurant I had never even dined in.
I thought about my last date. He was a filmmaker whose most significant work and fifteen minutes had since passed and now relied mainly on income from a contract with a popular yet ill stitched, generic shoe company. I am still in recovery which warranted a move and over $300 dollars in spa treatments. I even had Reiki done in that spa package; what Mr. Miyagi did to Ralph Macchio in the Karate Kid. The Reiki master worked his way to the soles of my feet and said: “You are always walking. Sometimes your steps are hurried and sometimes you walk slowly, but that at all times your steps are deliberate.”
I think in gauging dates, it is critical not to compare one dinner to the next. I think it is important to keep an open mind and be willing to try new things that you initially may not find appetizing. The shoes my cancelled date sent were not the red shoes I fell in love with years ago and the reflection I saw in that delicious patent leather has since changed, but I loved where this pair might lead me with deliberate steps ahead and further down a yellow brick road.
Rebecca Beckum is a writer, artist and graduate of the Savannah College of Art and Design. She has worked in varied fields but predominately in photography and education. She has spent the past four years writing and shooting internationally in Japan, Mexico and South America. Rebecca is currently working on a collection of essays from my travels and a novella about online dating.
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