This Is Always about The Shoes

These were them, all right.

I want to tell you about the shoes.

I want to tell you enough but not too much, or certainly not the wrong things.

About the shoes.

Because this, in my subconscious, this is always about the shoes. It’s never about a movement disorder. It’s never about balance, It’s standing, in the shoes, by my coworker’s desk, talking to him about a design project, and then I’m walking with intent to the office door. I smile at him, I say, I’ll be right back! Then I walk out the door, and make sure it closes all the way behind me; I even make it a few steps to a lobby area.

And then I stop, and I look both ways before I cross into the long hallway. I turn right. I pause. I take off the shoes.

And now I’m running. No, I’m not running, I don’t do that anymore. But I am moving as quickly as I can, in, if you can believe it, pantyhosed feet. It’s silent.

It’s deafening.

I’m taking a bathroom break, no big deal. I get there, always looking around.

I get what I came for, and in the stall I put the shoes back on. Anyone who looks under here sees the shoes. I walk out and smile at the woman washing her hands, and then I do the same as she did. I wash my hands. And I walk out another door into the hallway. I look down the hall. Damn. It’s really long.

I think about Michael, back at his desk. I think about how much I like working with him, how we click in the work, how grateful I am to have the opportunity to create with him and to learn. But I look both ways before I head back to the office because getting there means taking off my shoes.

This is a vibrant space with multiple business operations, and no one here is without shoes. But I take the shoes off, and I skitter back to my office door.

I pause.

I look around.

I put on my shoes, and I open the door.

Michael is still working but looks up to say something like, Let’s keep going.

I say yes.

But what I want to tell you about is the shoes.

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A version of this essay was originally published by PD Wise in May 2021, https://pdwise.com/stories/the-shoes/.

(Crazy) Courage. No Matter What.

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I have friends getting married this weekend. Theirs is a powerful love story, and I’ve been churning the question of what makes it so.

What makes a love story one you can’t forget?

It’s common to think that an element of tragedy is what makes a love story unforgettable. This is somewhat true. But the first word that came to my mind was, “Courage.”

Courage is what makes a love story unforgettable. Courage means your heart has a goal, and nothing else can matter more than that. It’s more like crazy courage.

Mark Twain said it best when he said courage is not the absence of fear. It is mastery over fear. It is feeling terrified and still knowing what your soul tells you is your destiny and not turning off that message.

No matter what.

No matter if the love you have for your soul mate threatens to demolish everything else you think you know.

No matter if you could lose a job, or friends, or the acceptance of family.

No matter if no one wants to help you.

No matter.

When two people join their lives, for better or worse, for this thing or that thing, it is courageous. This world can sling some terrible challenges at us.

And no one has to get married anymore. It is a choice, a choice to make a very public commitment to be the very best version of yourself you know how to be because the person you love deserves no less.

And you both feel that way, it’s not that you are more perfect than you were before you were married. Not at all. We may be less perfect the minute we say we are going to try this hard.

Except maybe not.

Except though we may not be perfect in that moment, we will have hundreds of thousands of opportunities to be something better than perfect.

We will have the chance to be courageous. Over and over again.

Courage is asking for forgiveness.

Courage is granting forgiveness.

Courage is going to work so you can come home. It’s having a child together. It’s being willing to fail. It’s growing old with someone. It’s setting off into the Great Unknown, also known as tomorrow, holding your love’s hand and not letting go. Ever.

Nancy and Jane, what you have been denied up until this year could arguably be termed a tragedy. But that is so not the end of the story. The best love stories don’t end. A new phase of your story is just beginning.

Thank you for letting me tag along.

I love you.

Welcome to Married Life. We’ve been waiting for you.