Wednesday, January 30, 2013

"But They'll Kill You!"

Just in case you might have missed it, I love high heels.  The higher the better, though my closet only goes to about 6" (including platform of course).  I hadn't ever really worn them with any regularity in the past -- there's rarely extra money for such things when you're a single mother -- though man did I look upon them with lust in my heart!  I'd be serving lunch in my deli, and I'd see the women who worked in the office up the road come in in their classy business suits and coordinated pumps, and a part of me longed to join them; maybe not for work, but definitely on their next shopping trip!  But in that era of my life, it was jeans and tennis shoes all the way.

Years later when I began the job I have now, other than those tennis shoes,  I had a pair of black loafers.  Just flat black loafers, no tassel, no fringe, no frills; but they did the trick and were presentable.  I had no extra money and was putting together my wardrobe from the clearance racks at Ross and Marshall's with a personal dollar limit of $5 on any item I purchased; that budget couldn't stretch far enough to apply to shoes, so black loafers it continued to be.  But I distinctly remember walking into Marshall's one Sunday afternoon in late spring about two months after I started working, and seeing on the clearance aisle what I thought to be the most beautiful sandals I'd ever seen.  For $16.99.  And they had my size.  

I sat down on the bench with the box on my lap and slowwwwly removed the lid, holding my breath as I folded back the layers of paper gently and pulled them reverently from their nest of tissue.  I unzipped the back and slid my foot into that crisscross of blue goodness and spent my weeks' clothing allowance - the whole $20! - on that pair; and the rest as they say, is history.
Almost exactly like that first pair I fell in love with
 (and still have)
As I got on my feet (so to speak!), my budget got a little wider (my dollar limit for a single object is now around $8 on clearance stuff!), and I found the buy-one-get-one-free shoe club sales, and my love affair took off.  Even now, the most expensive pair that I purchased myself are the 'Bordello' black platform pumps with the red polka-dots and bow that I won at auction for $45 (they retail for $89).   My Person has fed my addiction this past Christmas with a couple of new pairs (and bags...I'm now a bag person thanks to him, but that's another story entirely!), but that first pair will always hold a special place in my heart.

My mom, on the other hand, fears for my life.
My 'Bordello' platforms...LOVE them!

Well, maybe not my life, but definitely my health.  When I first began my love affair with shoes, high heels in particular, my mom would see pictures I posted or hear me excitedly describing the latest pair, and would opine about the detrimental affects of high heels on ones spine.  The particular spine she worried about had issues.  Her concerns were valid.  You see, 13 years ago I was in a horrible accident that left me in a wheelchair for a number of months unable to walk, followed by years of physical therapy and surgeries.  You wouldn't know it to look at me now, but I was pretty messed up, and the accident has had lifelong implications on my health.  I worked my ass off to get out of that wheelchair, get through my surgeries, and learn to walk without a limp.  And she stood by me the whole time.  I can't even imagine how hard it must have been on her to have to sit by feeling so helpless and watching me do what I did.  But I couldn't have asked for better support.  She moved into my house (thankfully she and Dad lived just up the block at the time), and took care of my then two little boys, and me who had to this point been the picture of self-reliance, suddenly completely unable to care for myself, while maintaining her own full time job and charity work.  Up to that point, I'd been one of those people who never took their independence for granted.  I distinctly remember running up flights of stairs at the hospital where I worked just days before the accident, two-at-a-time, and thinking how amazing it was to be able to move that quickly and effortlessly.  I played softball, though not very well.  I hiked, and took great pleasure in the motion of my body covering ground on the hacked-out trails of the Alaskan woods on my way in to the lake where I used to like to take my dog.  I hadn't taken my movement for granted, which strangely served me very well in that time when I couldn't walk at all.  It was so gratifying to know I'd not taken it for granted when I could .

I know her lectures were for my own good.  She'd seen me suffer and worried about me doing even more harm to my already messed up skeleton.  And working in the healthcare field myself, I've read the literature and studies and am aware of the various posture, ankle, spine, and foot issues that can occur in association with the use of high-heeled footwear.  But I eventually had a talk with her about how I knew all this and was making the choice to continue to wear them, and ended with "...and that's the last we're going to talk about this, right?".  And insisted on a response. :)  She has been good to her word.  She hasn't spoken of it since.

However, I didn't realize until recently why I insisted on continuing to wear them with equal insistence on ignoring all the reasons why I shouldn't.

'Taylor Says' Freddie's
I put on the amazing shoes that My Person gave me for Christmas this year (see above), and something clicked in my mind as I excitedly danced my way down the hallway to our room so I could see them in the mirror in all their glory.  And it's pretty simple.  And, like everything else about me I'm finding, pretty complicated.

I wear them because I can.

Immediately after the accident, while lying in that icy puddle on the road that Pearl Harbor Day in December of 1999, I thought I was paralyzed.  I thought I'd never walk again.  Ever.  As the snow fell on that part of my face that wasn't submerged in water, I remembered running up the flights of stairs the week before, skipping every-other step, and remember being so sad that I'd never do that again.  Fortunately this thought was only for the amount of time it took the ambulance and the EMT's to arrive and assure me that I would in fact walk again someday, though they and many doctors that came after them wouldn't say when or how well.  But every day that I put on a pair of heels, walk smartly down the stairs and to my car, it's me thumbing my nose at that day Fortuna was on a coffee break, and flipping off the world -- with both hands! -- that said so many "you'll never..."'s.

I promise not to wear high heels when I know I'm going to be on my feet a lot.  I try not to run in them.  And if it's really icy, I keep them in my bag and wait to put them on until I get into my office.  I'm minimizing risk.  But someday, when I'm old and gray and finally sitting in a wheelchair that I've earned by virtue of my many, many, (many!) years and experiences, I have a feeling that underneath that afghan thrown over my legs you'll find a pair of stilettos.         

~M