The first year after I graduated from college, I lived in the Lincoln Park neighborhood in Chicago. My circle of friends was a group of girls I had gone to boarding school with, and almost all of us had the same pair of nine west black boots. They were comfortable and stylish, which is a combination I do not often experience. I can see pairs of these boots lined up in the entryway of Virginia and Rebecca's apartment. The look that would appear on one of our faces when we realized we had on the wrong pair. We were kind of like a little mini-army in our boots and khaki pants and black turtlenecks. In some ways, I miss those days. When none of us were married and we would get a bucket of beer (cider for me and Rebecca) at Ranalli's and a pizza but a salad for Missy R. because she hates pizza. We would laugh and laugh until we cried with laughter. And go to the bathroom in twos. And try to find the loves of our lives. In a bar. In Chicago. Always wearing those black boots.
I was wearing those black boots when I am in line in the bathroom of Tin Lizzie's and a woman I had never seen turns to her friend, "Is that her? The one who said that to me? I am going to kick her ass." And she turns to me and says, "Are you the one who was a bitch to me at the bar?" And I say, "Ahh, no." "Well, that girl was wearing jeans too." "Well, I'm not her." "Are you sure?" "Ahh, yeah." At this point, the bathroom is free and she stumbles in and quickly forgets about me. Phew. If you know me, you know, I am not the kicking ass type. I was wearing those boots when I walked through thigh-high drifts of snow on January 2, 1999. We were in the midst of a blizzard and I was all alone in my studio apartment. It was snowing inside my apartment (I am not kidding). And I was wearing these boots as I walked to Blockbuster where I rented Lethal Weapon 4 (they were out of the good movies, really they were), Camelot (my favorite musical. it is so long. and i sing every song out loud because i have known every word since i was a small child), and another movie I have since forgotten. I was so scared in that blizzard, alone, feeling far away from everyone. But I was safe in my boots (and Blockbuster was only a block away). I was wearing those boots when I went to see the movie 200 Cigarettes. I was wearing those boots when I got all my hair cut off and just loved it. Short, short hair just like Gwyneth in Sliding Doors. I was wearing those boots when I got embarrassingly drunk, so drunk that I lost time, which is what I call that night - the night I lost time, and thought I was a smoker, and let boys buy me too many gin and tonics. But luckily it was on that night that my dear friend Virginia took me home and put me to bed, taking off those boots and helping me put on my pajamas. And nothing bad happened. Other than my own embarrassment and a good story for everyone else. And I was wearing those boots when I waited for the bus every morning that winter. The bus that would take me to and from work during the week. It was on one of those evening bus rides, when I was wearing those boots, that I closed Wuthering Heights with three pages left. I could no longer put up with Heathcliff. I was, simply, over it.
Through that entire winter and part of spring, I was wearing those boots. As I grew to realize living in the big city and trying to find Mr. Right in a bar and worrying so much about wearing the right clothes and living in a tiny shoebox apartment and working in a cubicle and watching more TV than I want to admit and feeling alone in a group of friends and not having a car and riding the bus were all things I needed to change, I was wearing those boots. And tonight, as I think about those boots, I remember the other lessons during that time. How I realized that some friends will see you through anything and laughter is the best gift of all and setting boundaries within a family with divorced parents is hard but important and sometimes going back to what you know helps you heal and standing up for yourself in the face of a lie is important and spending an evening with just the girls makes my heart happy and sitting on the floor of Barnes and Noble is one way to remember who I am. And I learned that a great pair of khakis and a black turtleneck and a pair of comfortable yet stylish boots are sometimes all you need to have a great time.
Read more Sunday Scribblings here. The prompt this Sunday was My Shoes.