I really splurged on myself the other day. I bought an eight pack of cotton brief panties (waist high) and two new comfort-strap bras.
I thought about getting my hair done, but I’ve become pretty skilled at trimming it myself. I thought about coloring it, but I’ve been making good progress on finally growing out the gray. I’d hate to start over. I thought, for a second, that maybe a new dress was in order. I got pajamas with cat faces on them, instead.
I didn’t even consider shaving my legs. Not even for a minute.
Later that night, after the grind of the day and dinner and dishes and all the other obligations of life had left me until morning, I took a shower. I combed my graying hair and slipped into my new granny panties and cat pajamas. The bras didn’t make their debut until the next day. Wearing a bra is one of those obligations of life I just mentioned.
Next, I cozied up to binge-watch True Detective on the couch. Barefoot. With my slippers.
My slippers are named Nathan. Let me explain.
I was scrolling Facebook recently and came across an engagement announcement from a woman I knew in high school. Her name is Jenn, too. She was divorced once and, while I don’t know the details, I know that the end of her first marriage was pretty crushing to her. When she announced her new engagement, she posted a gorgeous picture of herself and her fiance. They glow together. In her post, she wrote, “When you have been wearing stilettos your whole life, it’s nice to slip into a pair of slippers.”
My stilettos have many names. Before I was an aging, gray-haired woman in cat pajamas, I was a pretty young thing with a vagabond heart. When I was seventeen, I fell in love with a 20-year-old felon and wore his affection like a pair of bright red pumps. I wanted everyone to see how grown up I was, but those red heels started stealing the show. I wasn’t the high school girl that wrote glowing articles for the newspaper anymore. The bell chimes of my promising future disappeared under critical whispers of my character. According to town rumor, I was pregnant for over a year. When money went missing from the school concession stand, I got asked about it. Never mind that I wasn’t even at the football game.
Another girl came along, eventually, and stole those red shoes right off my feet while I wasn’t paying attention, so I went out and found myself a pair of caged lace-ups. By then, I was living in my own apartment. Truth be told, I don’t remember getting those shoes. I just woke up wearing them one day and they didn’t seem to belong to anybody else, so I decided to keep them on.
They made me feel pretty and secure at first. I loved them so much that I threw out every other pair of shoes I had- friends, parents, all of them. My daddy strolled into town one day like a well-worn pair of comfortable walking shoes, looked at the marks those laces were leaving on my body, and asked, “Why don’t you just take those off?” I told him I didn’t remember how to move without them.
It’s hard to chase after a baby, though, when you can’t feel your feet. I went barefoot for a little while. I spent my days cleaning hotel rooms and my nights fretting over bills and my daughter. A costume pair of glass pointed-toes came into my life and promised to change everything.
Did they ever. I wore those glass shoes for a the better part of a decade. They gave me my second daughter. I wore them when I finally decided to go to college. I wore them when my mother died. I wore them through a house fire, a tornado, and a miscarriage.
Those shoes and I walked a ragged road and little chips of glass fell off along the way. Glass shoes aren’t meant to last forever. As the clock neared midnight, his eyes began wandering to other faces in the ballroom, so I let one cut in. We parted ways as amicably as possible and we both were made better people from our time together.
By then, I was pretty done with shoes. The calluses on my feet grew thick. I learned to walk on hot coals as easily as plush carpet. Shoes didn’t mean much to me, anymore, but yet every woman deserves a good pair.
After a while, an old familiar pair of slippers beckoned me, “Let’s do something fun.” I didn’t have anything else going on, so I agreed. We went to a zombie crawl and then ate Mexican food until we could hardly walk. Soon, my days were filled with the comfortable joy of not having to try. These Nathan slippers fit me effortlessly. They padded my feet from harsh gravel, and yet my toes could move freely. My ankles were not sore. They didn’t leave me blistered nor did they strain my back. They were just right.
We celebrated our marriage by taking his daughter and my daughters on vacation and then throwing a big 4th of July bash at our home. Every day now is like Saturday morning. Both of us are graying. Both of us wear ridiculous pajamas and binge-watch and tend to put off shaving. We both love our slippers. His are named Me. He used to wear combat boots. Before that, steel toes. Today, we are both determined to teach his daughter and my daughters the importance of good orthopedic care.
I tolerate the fact that he’s a grown man that watches anime and Marvel cartoons.
He puts up with my addiction to homesteading and fancy chickens.
And both of us spend our moments apart, clicking our heels, knowing there’s no place like home.
Congratulations, Jenn. Those shoes look good on you.
Originally published at medium.com