Thursday, May 13, 2010

Buy the shoes

A few years ago, my girls and I took advantage of a promotional deal at a drugstore and bought a box of notecards and matching magnets for a dollar. Illustrated with whimsical pink-splashed cartoons of shoes and shopping bags, the theme was “Life is short—buy the shoes.” It was clich├ęd and cutesy, and not really my style. Carrie Bradshaw, I am not.

Mostly, I’m happiest in my ripped-up Cons. I don’t love to go shoe-shopping, and when I do need to buy a pair, I often agonize about pulling the trigger. I am reluctant to spend the money on something I usually view as frivolous. (Yeah, I know: the shoes I wear would never be described as “frivolous.”) So more often than not, I don’t buy the shoes—or don’t even go shopping in the first place.

Yet, in the first three days after I learned I have cancer, I surprised myself by buying two pairs of shoes. This is pretty much my shoe quota for the next year or two, and I didn’t set out to buy either pair. The first day, the day of my diagnosis, Dan and I took our older daughter to the mall to meet some friends, leaving us with an afternoon to kill. We were five hours into living with cancer; we held hands and called it a date. I idly looked for some short black boots, but instead, impulsively bought a pair of black slip-ons. Two days later, I took that same daughter to look for shoes for her 8th grade dance. I pounced on a pair of sling-backs long before she made a decision.

After my second shoe purchase in three days, Dan joked that I was becoming Imelda Marcos. Recent behavior aside, we both know there’s no danger of that.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the country, my dear friend Miss M believes in retail therapy, specifically her fave Fluevog shoes. I don’t share her passion, but I can understand it. “They are sweet gifts that I award myself for getting through all this stuff,” she says. In the last few years, she’s lost her husband to addiction, a close friend to colon cancer, and too recently, her beloved, fierce mother. Partly, she salves the wounds; partly, I think, she knows life is short. She buys the Fluevogs.

In the stores, as I tried on the shoes, I thought of two things: I simply wasn’t going to deprive myself of a pair of shoes anymore. Because, yes, life just might be too short.

But, with any luck and as I fervently wish, life might be awfully long. So my other thought was this: “Shoes last. I could have these shoes for five or ten years. I will wear these shoes out.”

Which is why I offer you a new magnet-ready slogan: “Life is long—buy the shoes.”


  1. Sarah in Sexy Slingbacks! I love the idea. And Shoe-Shopping as a Date--wonderful.

  2. long may you run -- or walk -- in those shoes, Miss S.

  3. Amen - buy the shoes, my friend!

    When my marriage was falling apart and I was facing a huge financial crisis, I happened to find myself, with a friend at the Carolina Outlet Mall. She purposely guided me into the Coach outlet - knowing my one weakness in the material world is Coach purses.

    Meanwhile,I was feeling totally Carrie Bradshaw-ish and trying to fight it all the way. She asked me if there was anything at all I had done for myself over the past 6 or so months when my life had turned upside down and sideways, and I had to admit that I had not. I was just hyper-focused on getting my boys through the quagmire, and not thinking of my needs.

    Well, long story short, she convinced me to buy that purple suede satchel I fell in love with upon walking in the door (at 1/3 the retail price, but still not bargain basement) - and I have to say that when I sport that
    purse on my arm I do feel empowered in some crazy sense of the word. It was totally frivolous, but just what I needed at the time.

    Same as your shoes, Sarah. And though my situation can never compare to a health issue, there are some similarities in the mix - i.e. taking control and becoming empowered in any way you can - no matter how obscure or crazy it may seem.

    Go with it, and embrace those shoes - they are your symbol of power and endurance, same as my Coach bag.

    Love you - L -

  4. Buy the shoes for sure.... there are no guarantees we will be here tomorrow no matter who we are.This is not a dress rehearsal ,we get one life so do what makes you happy as long as you don't hurt someone else and do the right thing what ever it is!You will need a good pair of shoes if you want to kick cancers ass anyway! Love your spirit Sarah! Bonnie

  5. Of course you should buy the shoes. I'm a firm believer in shop therapy. Always remember that we too buy shoes (or whatever) and are happy and blessed to walk along side you. Always!