"I can't buy them today, unfortunately," I said to the clerk, gazing at the gorgeous boots that wrapped themselves around my very happy feet.
"You're playing a dangerous game," he replied, as if reading from a script. He's been to the school of how to get people to buy something outrageously expensive. Three months earlier I was in the same shop and he'd insisted that both pairs of boots I'd tried would no longer exist by now. Both are still on display.
I know his game but it doesn't bother me in the slightest. Thing is, I'm sensible and I know what I like. I'm going to get these boots regardless of his statement that they're practically out and my size is the most popular. I know that I'm disciplined enough to hold off until Friday, when money won't be so tight. It's not a matter of being able to afford them. This is unquestionable. I get paid weekly and on top of that, I'm a budgeting master-mind.
"It's a dangerous game I have to play as I'm sensible and as I don't need these I'll just have to wait until Friday," I lean down to undo them.
"You can put a deposit on them."
Now he is playing a dangerous game. He has told me, lover of all shoes bright and beautiful, that these gorgeous things can be secured with a small payment, until I'm financial comfortable to purchase them.
I've wanted these boots for over a month. I saw them in the window of another shop, one of the plastic shops that line the main road of Camden Market. They were quoted at far more than this grungy 'authentic' shop has said they charge. I think my hesitation was barely momentary.
"Yeah, alright," I set them on the counter, swinging my bag around and pulling out my wallet. Deposit down, I head out into the sun. My destination is a Costa Coffee. I make my way through the crowds of tourists, tattooists, merchants and teenagers that fill the sidewalks along Camden Market. The thought of those boots is in the back of my mind.
I am by no means frivolous. I am sensible and careful with money to such an extreme that I will go without things that qualify as needs simply because I can't bring myself to justify expenditure on say, a bra over food. But I'm learning to trust that I am really good with my finances and that it's O.K. to pay for the things you want as long as you remember that they do not equate happiness, nor do they ensure your survival. It doesn't make it 'bad' or 'wrong' to want as long as you are aware of why.
To me shoes are lovely things. Lovely, pretty things full of potential. They are more than just something to protect my feet from the elements. They are unexplored places, favourite long walks, unexpected adventure.
I think my shoes can be chronicled along with my journals. My first truly loved pair of shoes were some grey and red skate shoes from my aunt. To begin with, they were a spontaneous gift, of sorts. she asked if I wanted to try them and when I determined that they did fit she said I could have them. They didn't fit her and they'd been a sale item so she couldn't return them.
I wore those shoes through most of Junior High and right until the end of grade ten. They came with me to all those conferences that turned me into the socially aware being that I am.
I walked out of them one day, whilst heading home from school. It was right when I'd started at Alternative, my haven for education. I remember distinctly how I suddenly felt the pavement, cold against my foot. I looked back and the sole had fallen off. I checked the other one to find it was barely hanging on.
After that it was a pair of purple hi-tops. I'd chosen them special and I adored the way they fit my feet like a sock with a thick bottom. They were my dancing shoes and I took to dancing on the bus and the train. They were my arty-angsty teen shoes and they too seemed to be destined to be walked out of. They came close, but then my grad was on the horizon and it was a pair of pink shoes and then a pair of white canvas sneakers that I painted rainbow for Pride. I became a queer activist and my rainbow shoes were my signature. I was rainbow from the top of my head to the tip of my toes.
I wore those rainbow shoes to Australia, where they eventually succumbed. They were replaced with a pair of fat squishy trainers, pink white and blue. The pink is fuzzy, like velvet, and I still have that pair.
Since there's been another pair of self painted rainbow shoes. A pair of flames shoes to mark the birth of the Red Mile and the time when the Flames nearly got that shiny cup again. There are Garrisons, purchased with Ralph Bucks, a $400 bonus handed out by the Alberta Government. Those Garrisons have held my feet through more than one drag performance and most recently have been the subject of a photo shoot...along with my adored Saddle Shoes. The Saddle Shoes my mum found for me in the States, the single requested item I had for them to bring back.
And then...my first pair of Docs. They were used, from a now closed consignment clothing store in Calgary. They cost me $40 and I knew, from seeing shiny new Doc Martens in the window of shoe stores, that this was a quarter of what I'd expect to pay for them new. They weren't in bad condition either, but they didn't last long. It was a joy when, last year I entered the same shop and saw the Yellow Ones. They shone and I remember thinking, "Even if they don't fit..."
But they did fit and once I'd put some black laces with rainbow stars in them, they were most definitely meant to be.
Those Docs came with me to London on my first visit back in November. They came with me in January and it was then that the sole snapped and the toes began to crack. They were hideously uncomfortable and needed replacing.
The initial replacements were my stunning black leather ones with the pink cherry blossoms embroidered on the side. They were a gift, purchased for me. I am not a material girl and I could happily not recieve another gift in my life, instead taking time well spent. But if you must buy something, and if it's not edible, then shoes are unquestionably a brilliant choice. However there is something about finding that Perfect Pair of Shoes and being able to buy them for myself. It's a different sort of feeling and I still didn't feel like my yellow ones had found a proper replacement...
And I wonder about all the places we'll go together.