If the Shoe Fits
I drove to Eugene on a weekday morning for a writing award. Sort of. The award was more of a bridesmaid, rather than a bride, but that doesn’t mean it was even second place. Maybe it was more like a flower girl, or the person who mans the guest book. But it was important to me to travel the five hours for the hosted writing workshop, and attend the winners’ reading. Working full time is hard on writing, so any chance you get to pull away and immerse in the craft, you should take.
At home, I save some clothes, ones I think have the chance of being appreciated as “vintage” sometime in the future. A few pairs of shoes. Sometimes I write about them. A couple tops have been stashed so long, they’re in style again. Once, in the mid-90s, I splurged on a pair of red shoes I accidentally saw in the fancy shoe part of Nordstrom the day after I received a bonus check. The shoes were keepers for the vintage future, so when four years later styles had changed, I packed them among the mohair sweaters and miniskirts, where they stayed for at least a decade. I can’t be sure exactly how long, because a couple years ago I had a notion it might be time for the red shoes to be in style again. But when I looked, they were gone from the place I remembered putting them. I clean and re-organize often, but the red shoes had disappeared.
The trip to Eugene gave me a night in Portland in the way home, a chance to see the parents. Saturday morning I was in the car by nine to capture at least a decent half of my weekend when I got home to Seattle. I drove the surface streets of northeast Portland to I-5, and saw the Goodwill store my friend and I like, so I stopped.
When I’m in a Goodwill mood, there are a few sections I go to and skip the rest. Glasses, sweaters, coats – trolling for vintage coolness. This particular Goodwill is not a huge place and I know exactly where my aisles are. But without conscious thought, I went directly to the shoe section, which is arranged by color. The black shoe aisle was stroller-filled so I went to the next – lime green, white, and red in the center. Without any cohesive thought or focus, my eyes went right to a pair in the middle of the reds. I took the pair off the shelf, already sure they were my 6.5 size, because they were my red shoes of the 90s. I knew it as if I’d been given a map. The magnitude of coincidence hit me as I held them and my breathing faulted for a few seconds. Turning the pair over, I saw the plastic taps added to the outside of the heels, where I always had the cobbler set them for the way I wore heels down. I had been a venerate heel protector back in the day. I doubt anyone even remembers “taps.” Now we just replace the heels, at three times the cost.
I can’t prove they are my shoes, of course. Or how they travelled to Portland. At the same time, I know they’re mine. Bought on a Goodwill whim stop on a short-notice trip, coming home.