I’m wearing a pair of black leather, stack-heeled, pointy-toed boots—neither booties nor knee-high, they hit comfortably about four inches above my ankle.
The zippers close smoothly; the leather is buttery soft and the style is sleek and classic. They’re the most comfortable footwear in my closet.
They’re also ready for the trash heap: Both three-inch, leather-wrapped heels are cracking; the soles are beginning to warp; the finely-stitched seams are frayed. I’ve worn these boots constantly for 13 years—with jeans, pantsuits, skirts, everything but gym shorts--and it’s time to retire them. Toss ‘em, chuck ‘em, put ‘em out of their misery.
Except I can’t.
I love these boots. They were expensive but proved the old adage, “Buy the best shoes you can afford.”
Dad taught me how to make leather gleam with a cloth and Kiwi paste, so I did the old pop-and-polish every couple of months. That and brisk brushing kept them going for many years.
Today, they’re too far gone for the cobbler’s art. The moment of truth is here: It’s time to buy a new pair—if I could only find some I don’t hate.
I’ve scoured Zappo’s, Macy’s, Nordstrom’s and Amazon, and can I just say women’s boots are toad ugly these days? If they don’t have 27 straps buckled around the ankle, the heel is either six inches high or a funky wedge, like the shoes Russian astronauts wear.
But ugly isn’t the only reason I don’t buy new boots. It hurts to part with these.
They were purchased on Nov. 26, 2005 in St. George, Utah, the day after Widdle and I wed.
St. George may be the most beautiful town in America, with cobblestone pedestrian malls, carefully edited landscapes and quaint shops and restaurants.
A bit like Charleston, minus crippling humidity and hordes of tourists.
After strolling around town for a while, we ducked into a shoe store. I don’t know why: Shoe shopping isn’t high on my list of hobbies. But I saw the boots and tried them on. Widdle said, “Done!”
He went to the register and paid, and I wore them out of the store into an impossibly beautiful day, with a cloudless blue sky and soft autumn breeze. Across the street, to the north, loomed the jagged peaks of Pine Valley Mountain.
I remember that day with perfect clarity: the stunning scenery, the feel of Widdle’s hand in mine, the way passersby grinned at us. (That may have been because Widdle was wearing a furry red pimp hat, but I prefer to think they dug our newlywed vibe.)
Throwing away these boots means all I have left of that day is memories, except for one photo we took of the pimp hat and my boots artfully arranged on a hotel bed. (It was hilarious at the time.)
So many things have changed in 13 years—jobs, houses, cars, responsibilities, deaths and births. Nothing is the same—but my hands have reached for those boots hundreds of times.
They’ve never given me a blister, never leaked, never sagged or split. They looked good and they made me feel good every time I wore them.
And man, I wore them. To job interviews, on errands and dates with Widdle, to church, to meet up with friends. They were my go-to shoe, always there.
Throwing them in the trash seems cold.
Maybe they should be ceremoniously burned, to the tune of “These Boots Were Made for Walkin’.” Or maybe they should just be… given the boot. (I had to, don’t hate me.)