New Shoes and Friendship

An old building near our house with a sheltering tree.

Miles run yesterday: 4.5

Chapters revised in my novel so far: 6

Times I had to listen to Paolo Nutini’s “New Shoes” for this post: 4

“Hey, I put some new shoes on, and suddenly everything’s right.”–Paolo Nutini

You would not believe the amazing boots my best friend brought me today. She bought them for a penny.

Just between you and me, I may have a shoe problem.

But I have always been very, very fortunate in the friendship department.

When I was young, I was a girly girl. My 4-year-old dress habit had introduced a dress trend in the preschool set. All the moms who couldn’t get their girls to wear dresses in the past were thrilled.

And one does not wear dresses with laced shoes; dresses certainly don’t belong with tennis shoes. My shoes had buckles.

So when skill tests made the rounds in kindergarten, I passed all of them with flying colors: telephone number, parents’ names, address, cutting with scissors… all except the Shoe Tying test. When we were sitting in Circle Time, I held paper phones, paper houses, paper scissors… and the other kids held paper shoes. With ties. I ignored them.

My mom couldn’t figure out why I kept asking for buckle shoes. When she discovered the reason, she went right out and bought me shoes with ties.

I was devastated.

But I had a secret weapon: my best friend in kindergarten whose middle name, she had told me, was “Bing Bong.” I found this fascinating.

Every day after naptime, I asked her to tie my shoes for me. She did, for many weeks. And then, one day, she said, “Why don’t you tie them yourself?” And then she tore the ears off of my favorite, miniature, blue rubber rabbit. And we weren’t the best of friends after that.

I am still thankful for her shoe tying skills and for the way she encouraged me to be independent.

In college, my best friend was one of the smartest, most well-read people I’ve ever met. She could remember conversations verbatim, and when I cried on her shoulder for the fiftieth night in a row about the same boy, she never once said, “He’s a horrible, no-good idiot.”

She also put up with an awful lot of talk about shoes. When you walk miles and miles around campus and up to Franklin Street and back to the dorm and then out on the town again, you have to have shoes that go the distance.

One Halloween, I had bought nifty black shoes (with ties!) that had a cool, hip granny vibe about them. We dressed up as black eyed peas (before the music group existed) and joined the throngs of people showing off their costumes at the big Halloween celebration downtown.

Me: My shoes are getting ruined! Look at them.

Her: We can clean them off later.

Me: They won’t clean off. They won’t. Maybe I should just stop walking.

Her: Stop walking, and we’re sleeping in the street. Is that what you want?

There was an element of tough love in our relationship.

And she saw me through very many pairs of shoes; shoes with soles that had been walked right through, and new ones that we exclaimed over together. Sometimes, because of our shared interests and big, curly hair, we looked similar from our heads right down to our toes.

People would say, “Are you two sisters? You look so similar!”

And she would reply, “Yes. I’m the pretty one.”

I will never forget when I was going for my first job with a salary, and I was unsure whether I had a chance at getting it.

She looked me straight in the eye and said, “They would be fools not to hire you. There’s no doubt in my mind that you’ll get it.”

And I did.

Yesterday, I went out for lunch and a quick shop with my BFF. She may have a bigger shoe problem than I do, but don’t tell her I said that.

We are bound together by the excitement about new running shoes, new boots, the joy of wearing rain boots in the puddles.

While we were shopping, I found a pair of lace-up (!) black boots with faux fur that had been $220 and were reduced to $33.

I carried them around the store and then put them back. I didn’t need the guilt.

“I could get them for you for Christmas! I don’t have any ideas!” she said.

“Please don’t, it’s fine. Really.”

Today, she showed up on my doorstep with a hug, a card and The Boots. When she drove back to the store and went to the register, they rang them up and charged her a penny because they were out on the floor in error.

A penny.

I told her she was the luckiest person I knew.

But really, I know I’m the lucky one to have such a good friend, one who never has to buy or give me another thing to make me feel rich. My life has been blessed by all of the friends who have changed me… for good.


36 thoughts on “New Shoes and Friendship

  1. E says:

    Yeah, i might need some intervention with the shoe issue. I am so glad you love them. I would have paid the 200 bucks for them, honestly! You deserve them for all you do for others!

  2. David Gentry says:

    I have heard it said that the only things worth having are family and friends. Maybe shoes should be added.

    Wonderful post!

  3. robincoyle says:

    Pssssst. Don’t tell anyone, but I too have a shoe-thing. Mr. Nordstrom and I are best friends.

  4. Carrie Rubin says:

    It always amazes me what you remember from your past. I only remember one thing from kindergarten–that I initially refused to go if I had to wear a dress (which was the rule back then). On the first day, a boy made fun of seeing my underpants when I was climbing the monkey bars. I was so mad. Luckily, they changed the dress rule a week later, and thereafter I happily wore pants. That is all I remember. I think you can assume from this comment that I’m not a shoe person either… 😉

  5. Melissa says:

    Ask the Hubs about my shoe thing…it’s not pretty. He gets so upset, his head spins around a-la The Exorcist and foul language spews out of his mouth….sort of freaky. But, in life, one can never have too many pairs of great shoes or great friends…they kind of go together.

  6. Nice post, and I hear you about the shoes! I did a whole post about my boots back in February, don’t feel obliged to read it, but should you wish to –

    • annewoodman says:

      I love it! I can relate. And you were writing that one in February, about the time I often look for good deals (read: almost free) on boots… it’s always sad that when I buy them, I have to wait until the next year to really wear them. Now it’s boot weather! Yippee!

  7. Bernie Brown says:

    Ahh, what a great story! What was the name of that store again?

  8. jmmcdowell says:

    I love boots and paid full price this fall for a pair from J. Jill. 🙂 After years of “dressing in a rut,” I’m trying to enter the 21st century. Can I hire you to help me put together good outfits if I ever have to do a public appearance for the books?!

    • annewoodman says:

      I am there! Personal stylist at the ready! My friend is much better at it than I, but I get an A+ for effort. ; )

      Hope you enjoy your boots. One of my writing friends just got a job at J.Jill! We are all very pleased that she’ll get a discount. ; )

  9. Amy Mak says:

    Great story! Great friend! And sounds like some great pair of boots…:)

  10. J-Bo says:

    Lovely post. Two of my favorite things: friendship and shoes. I never understood the shoe thing until a few years ago. But now I understand it thoroughly, and I have more than made up for all those years I didn’t care about shoes. Now I buy them used to justify buying tons of them.

    • annewoodman says:

      Yes, it’s definitely something that comes with age… you realize that your feet don’t change nearly as much as everything else. ; ) And there are so many gorgeous shoes out there!

      Thanks for reading, Julia!

  11. Joyce says:

    LOVE. You are a wonderful friend, and worth every penny(!) or dollar, or whatever the case may be!

  12. Love the tapestry of shoe memories. Your poor rabbit!! Please send me positive vibes so that I can buy a new pair of shoes for one penny.

  13. Dammit, Anne, I want to buy your memoir. You tell the best childhood stories ever.

  14. Martha Merrill Wills says:

    Agree about your childhood stories being the best ever.

    As far as the boots go, what a deal (and a friend)! I love the Nordstrom at Southpoint, but am always too tired after an afternoon there to cross the street!

    Great post!

  15. […] Sometimes, like manna from heaven, you get a life-affirming gift like boots for a penny. And you ride that wave of happiness for […]

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