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.

When a Million Gigabytes Isn’t Enough

See that little guy in the middle? My daughter spotted him.

Words written in my novel so far: 27,383

Blades of grass that are still green in our yard: 2

Visits from an old friend in the last 24 hours: 1

In sixth grade, I stood in front of the orchestra each day before class and sang “Rhythm of the Night” by El DeBarge. People heard me.

There. Now I have no more secrets left in the world. My life is officially an open book.

The good news is that people I knew in middle school still act like they want to be my friend. I know. Weird, right?

So a good friend who I knew in middle school but didn’t get to be awesome, amazing, lifelong friends with until high school stopped by last night with her kids. Every single time I see her, she mentions something that makes me realize that my memory is not as wonderful as I previously imagined.

Possibly, between the two of us, we could reconstruct, hour by hour, each sordid day of high school in excruciating detail. This is why we can’t live too close to each other, because the horrible mundaneity (made-up word?) of our high school lives would cause us to self-destruct.

This visit’s revelation: I don’t remember junior prom.

We went to prom as a group but also with guys we had already broken up with. I mean, the important parts of the evening were already written in stone: the gorgeous dresses, the limo rental, the dinner reservations, the prom tickets. The boys were incidental… arm candy, really.

And, well, hindsight is 20/20, but I could have done better on that front if I’d been a little more creative.

We were on the junior prom planning committee. Our truly creative colors: black and white and silver. Our venue: a hotel in downtown Atlanta. Our dinner: I don’t remember a second of it, almost as if it never happened.

There were the photos on my friend’s front lawn, the limo ride, BLANK HERE, and more limo riding. I remember being back in the limo and my date and another guy arguing about whether the Porsche 928 or 911 was cooler.

Now, a psychotherapist might suggest that something horrible happened at dinner that I have wanted to block. I would suggest that absolutely nothing memorable happened. And I mean: nothing.

My husband, my friend and I were sitting around after dinner last night, and the subject of prom came up. She said, “Yeah, remember dinner at that Japanese steak house?”

Blank. Nothingness. Black hole.

I must state that alcohol was not involved in our prom experience. Though truthfully, alcohol would have been a heck of an improvement.

“Japanese steak house?”

“Yeah, you remember, the one called… shoot. I can’t remember.”

Since that part of my life never happened, at least for me, I didn’t try to pretend I knew. “Was it Kyoto?” Well, maybe I tried a little.

“No.”

So we were talking about it and remembering the guy she went with who went on to move to San Francisco and have three kids and turn out all respectable and stuff, and then I brought up bowling after prom.

“Bowling?”

“Yeah. Don’t you remember? We went over to J___’s house and had brunch and watched movies and went bowling.” I remember the bowling because I hate bowling and never manage to get above about 25.

“Did we change clothes?”

All I could think about was us in our long dresses and silly bowling shoes, but I assured her that we did. The guys kept their bowties on for a special flair.

(It must be noted here that none of us got married to each other at any point in the future, and the bowties may have played a role.)

My friend also brings up people’s names who am certain never existed. Sometimes I accuse her of making them up. She says they have become Facebook friends, but we all know how easy it is to create a fake persona on the Internet. Shameful, really.

I read or heard a report a few years ago about the memory capacity of a human brain. I remembered it–ha! See? I can retain information–and looked it up just now in Scientific American. The human brain can potentially hold about a million gigabytes of information.

I have no basis for comparison for what one gigabyte is versus 20 trillion, so I am going on the assumption that one million gigabytes is pretty a-okay.

My brain is so full of useless details, muck and drivel that I may need to do a spring cleaning.

Apparently, junior prom dinner was cleaned out a few years ago in a similarly hopeful sweep. I probably needed the memory space for things like how to make pesto or how to teach a child how to blow a bubble or something.

If anyone remembers anything notable about prom night, please email, Facebook or call me. I probably said something very smart or provocative or premonitory. That’s why that gazillionth of a gigabyte exists no more.