I have gorgeous feet. This is a fact. It's not something that I go around boasting about, but when my body started to resemble a bowl of melting ice cream, and my face began to look like one of those dolls they make out of apples that have been left to dry out in the sun, I started taking stock of my good points. And, although they are not exactly the first thing people see when I walk into a room, I know for a fact my feet have been known to leave a long lasting impression. Especially when shod in some fabulous strappy sandals, or four inch stilettos, or a sassy pair of mules, or boots that were made for walkin' (and so much more.) There's a reason why someone came up with the term "Fuck Me Pumps".
Men, and women, have commented on my tootsies ever since I was a sweet young thing. And now they're the only part of my anatomy that still gets rave reviews. So who can blame me for a partiality, a predilection, a propensity for foot fashion. Also a dedication, a devotion, an undying love. A commitment to, an unswerving faith in, a holy covenant with... alright, I'll say it.
My name is Lucia. And I am a slave to shoes.
Like all addictions, this one would still be working for me if it hadn't been for that dark dark day.That horrible moment of clarity. You know that moment. Every addict has one. We call it "hitting bottom." Mine came just this past summer.
About five months ago, I went online and ordered three pairs of shoes. I know, I know. You ordered shoes? Off the Internet? What were you thinking? Well, the short answer is, I suppose, that I wasn't thinking. Of consequences, anyway. Hello? I'm an addict, remember?
The first were a darling pair of Charles David four inch tall espadrilles with a daisy detail on the toes and strings that wound around and around the legs in a kind of torturous ballerina wrap.
They also, upon unpacking, revealed a chemical aroma that made me nauseous. I loved them.
The second were a pair of Charles David Boots. Pointed toes. Stacked three inch heels. They pinched my wide toes and my narrow ankles sloshed around in the wide heel. I could feel blisters developing on the balls of my feet after walking from the bedroom to the living room. Perfect.
The last were a pair of bronze, strappy stilettos that criss-crossed my feet and took about a half-hour to fit onto each foot. They were excruciating as I hopped from one foot to the other like someone who had burned the bottoms of both soles and was trying to get relief from this foot, no this one, no this one... and so on. I was never happier.
I wore the boots to work on Monday and gamely marched from the office down Main Street to the Starbucks. My colleague, Suelyn, who always wears flats unless she's got a presentation or a job interview, looked at my feet and winced.
"How can you stand those? They look so painful!"
"Oh, I can assure you, they are! But they're fabulous, so I'm willing to put up with a little discomfort," I said, sipping my non-fat, sugar-free vanilla latte.
"Well," she drawled, "At least they're closed-toed."
Suelyn has a little problem with open-toed shoes. She has this belief that people, (meaning me) who wear open-toed shoes at work get their "toe juice" (her words, not mine) all over the office because their toes poke out of the front of their sandals and touch the office floors. It's turned into something of a phobia that has become something of a running joke between us. Whenever I'm freelancing with her, if I'm wearing a pair of open-toed shoes to the office, my first stop in the morning is Suelyn's office, just to hear her little yelp of horror.
Now, I also am a big one for good sneakers, because I walk on the treadmill. RELIGIOUSLY. I don't miss a day. Here is where addiction plays a part, too, or maybe OCD, because I just can't leave the house if I haven't walked on the treadmill.
Soon after that forced march to Starbucks, I began noticing something... not good. When I would get up in the middle of the night, or in the morning, I walked very stiffly. And my right foot - I couldn't straighten it. And no way could I put any weight on it. During the day, it would get a bit better, but as the days, and then weeks, elapsed, the pain worsened. My workouts on the treadmill went from 50 minutes, to 40 minutes, to 30 minutes to 15 minutes to no minutes. It just hurt too damn much. I was beginning to walk like Quasimoto, or maybe more poignantly, Laura from The Glass Menagerie. Something had to happen. And I realized: I had to do the thing that scared me most of all.
I had to visit a podiatrist.
I was now 51 years old. No longer "on the bubble" of 50. I was now officially IN MY 50s. And going to see a podiatrist. Can a cardiologist and assisted living be far behind?
My podiatrist was twelve. I kid you not. He examined my foot. I figured he would say I had to have surgery and then I would make a full recovery, end of story.
He told me I had fallen arches and bursitis. Specifically, bursitis in my heel. He then uttered the words that would change my life forever.
"You'll have to stop wearing the heels."
"Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, Poindexter, back that thing up. You don't understand. I ... I have to wear high heels."
"Yeah, I get women in here all the time just like you -"
I bit my tongue. I wanted to say "I don't like your tone sonny boy" but I restrained myself.
"Look, you gotta wear flats and orthotics. Now I'll give you a cortisone shot, and that should relieve your pain initially, but you have to take care of yourself or you'll be back in this office for another shot before you know it."
By the beginning of August, yes, there I was, my leg outstretched, waiting for Dr. Kim to plunge a giant needle straight into the bottom of my heel. Anything, just take this wretched pain away. And this time, I really was ready to do anything.
I've been wearing nothing but flats ever since. I bought some that I kid myself make me look like Audrey Hepburn - but really they make me look like Kate Hepburn. On a bad day. With bloat.
My beautiful feet. I could just cry. They were my last holdout. But I can't stand the pain. It's like someone once said to me, "Do you want to be right? Or do you want to be happy?" That one really stuck with me over the years. I can adapt it to nearly everything in my life.
Do you want to be stylish? Or do you want to be pain-free?