I’ve been thinking, browsing, obsessing, even dreaming about shoes. But not with pleasure or anticipation. With sheer terror and sadness. Why? Because I can’t walk well in anything other than trainers. Even the walking shoes I was recommended make me stumble over my feet. Several months ago, I told myself with all the Pilates I was doing, I’d be able to walk on small stilts. Further down the line, I had to accept yet again that I was not an able person and that no amount of balance exercise was going to fix that entirely.
I remember the terrible day when I tried to work my numb feet into a pair of pointed stilettos, hiding behind a pillar in the church cloakroom. I remember somebody I didn’t know staring down at my feet. I remember thinking I’d succeeded only for my husband to ask me why one of my toes was out of my shoe. I hadn’t even felt it.
I took them off and walked in my sock-soles.
That was the last time I attempted heels. So you can understand that when I confessed that I was feeling nervous this morning about going to a shoe-shop it wasn’t just a flutter. I was quaking in my flat boots. I walked three times round dozens of ankle boots, knee-high boots and perilous heels. In one corner there were about 30 different versions of strappy skyscraper sandals. One ankle boot alarmingly had a model of a crouching tiger fitted in to its wedge! Women were taking down beautiful, elegant shoes and actually trying them on!
I was a heartbeat away from leaving, but instead, I walked up to the counter and said those four tricky little words, “I need your help.” Five, ten minutes later I was leaving with a shoebox of small block heels under my arm. I’m sure my exclamation, “I can walk in these ones!” sounded like the over-reaction of the century, but I didn’t care. I’d swallowed my self-consciousness about my walking, my disappointment about not managing heels any more and I left that pointed vertigo trip with my head held high, my feet firmly close to the ground.