In my twenties I was all about high heels. I chased down congressmen for interviews teetering on stilettos. I shopped in saucy heels. Jeans, suits, church dresses- It didn’t matter. I paired them all with heels. I remember telling my mom once, “Look at these. They’re casual, but sexy. I feel like J Lo would grocery shop in shoes like these.” I bought them on the spot. I was obsessed. So imagine my delight when I found shiny, red patent heels.
My red shoes are the reason I limp in the winter. They are the reason I get foot pain right before it rains. And they are responsible for some of my happiest memories.
So here’s the story. My little family moved to paradise right after I turned 27. We planted ourselves in a sweet little subdivision in Crestview, Florida called Sandy Ridge. The streets were littered with small children, and young frazzled moms chasing Power Wheels and half naked batmen. (That’s a whole other story!) I knew instantly that I would love it in my new hood. As tired as we all were, we knew we needed mommy time. Immediately social gatherings were planned, scheduled to start promptly after bedtime.
Shannon was our social coordinator. She lived in the middle of the street, was the best cook, and was a natural bar tender. It was perfect. We would gather in her kitchen and living room for all sorts of occasions. We seriously looked for any excuse to get together. Of course it was the one night a week we shed our sweats and ponytails, and we put on makeup, did our hair, and actually looked human. I always got excited for this night, and went to great lengths to plan my outfits. On one particular night I wore overpriced denim capris, a strapless red and white top that I now think looked more like a picnic tablecloth than a top, and glorious red patent heels. I felt divine. I strutted down the street along with the rest of the crew. Responsible Rebecca joined me on the street warning me against the heels. “You know how you get when you drink. Do you really think those shoes are a good idea?” I laughed and told her it would be fine. Christy met us there, took one look at my shoes and rolled her eyes. She knew there was no point in trying to talk reason with me. THE SHOES WERE NEW! I HAD TO WEAR THEM! Shannon just laughed. I’m pretty sure she knew how it was going to end, but she liked to be entertained, so she just let it go.
I feel like that night we were at some kind of party similar to Pampered Chef. Or maybe it was baskets? I didn’t know. I didn’t cook, and I had little boys that were as destructive as tornadoes. I wasn’t buying anything! But the wine….oh the wine flowed freely. Before I moved to this quiet little suburb I hadn’t really been one to drink. So needless to say I was a lightweight. I have no idea how many glasses I drank that night, but I do remember that we filled up an entire recycling bucket with wine bottles. For shame!!!!! Gasp!!! Well eventually the porch light went out at my house, and I knew it was time to go home. (That was Pete’s silent signal that he was going to bed, and if I was joining him I better hustle on home.)
I teetered down the street on my shiny new heels. By then most of the crowd had thinned out. Rebecca had offered to walk me home earlier, but I wasn’t ready. “Are you sure Katie? Seriously, you’re going to pay for this tomorrow..” I rolled my eyes, sighed heavily and sent her home. Christy had headed home knowing that her kids were on a strict schedule, and they would be waking early. The only two I remember standing in the driveway as I left were Michelle and Shannon. “We’re just going to stand here and watch to make sure you get home.” They were laughing. I should have taken it a warning sign. But nope, off I went. I was strutting prouder than a drunk peacock, until I wasn’t. I swear that brand spanking new road had potholes. I don’t care what you girls say. I fell in a hole! Now stop laughing. I know you girls are reading this, and laughing at the memory. I fell down hard. My ankle twisted to one side, and my whole body fell down with it. “Dammit. I should have gone home with Rebecca!” I let out a howl that they say sounded like a dying cat. This was NOT dignified in the least, and I was shaming my shoes! I struggled to get back up, hearing the giggles of my friends in the distance. “Are you ok?” “I’m fine! Just a little pot hole. No biggie!.” I slipped off my shoes, and hobbled on home. I no longer cared that the porch light was off. How the heck was I going to get up the stairs?!
I silently climbed the stairs, slipped into bed, and prayed that my foot would be better by tomorrow. Ha! I woke the next morning unable to walk. “Hey Katie? What did you do to your foot?” My husband was smirking, eating a piece of toast, and looking like a well rested frat boy. I wanted to slap him! (He’s always known how to avoid hang overs, and look refreshed after a night out. So annoying!) So there he was, leaning in the door jam, his face still pink from sleep, looking boyishly adorable, and annoying the snot out of me! “Mind your own business! I think I’m just gonna take my shoes back to the store. I noticed they have a scratch on them. While I’m out I may go get an xray. You know…Just if I have time.” Y’all! I fractured my foot, and had to be on crutches for weeks! But I DID take those shoes back, and trade them for a non scuffed pair!
Well, you would have thought that I would have learned my lesson, and left those beautiful shoes on the shelf, only reserved for church. Nope! Our neighborhood had legendary Halloween parties. I mean seriously, they were the stuff of movies. One particular year, I dressed up as a sailor, complete with red heels! By now our little crew had grown because another street had been built. We now had a nurse in our midst, so if I fell again I could at least receive medical support. Love you Kristen! And we had a pilot’s wife who was quiet and sweet, and always just looked at me like I was nuts. (Eventually she loosened up, and helped us make embarrassing memories!) Well, back to Michelle’s glorious party. The year before, there had been a naughty nurse who puked, and I vowed I would NOT follow in her footsteps. So the red shoes and I paced ourselves. Until we didn’t anymore. I saw Michelle glance down at my shoes. “So ummm…It’s none of my business, but I think you need to make a choice. I recommend you either lose the shoes, or stop drinking. You remember what happened last time!” I can’t help but laugh. Rebecca and Christy were both there that night, and they told me I had no choice, the shoes were coming off! I was also given a complimentary escort back to my house that night. There were no phantom pot holes to be seen.
That was one of the happiest times of my life. It’s been eleven years since I met all those sweet girls. We still laugh over the red heels. I talk to every single one of those friends to this day. We have all been scattered by the Air Force, but our bond is strong. And the red heels continued to serve me long after the spill. They walked me through an airport as I kissed Pete goodbye and sent him on a deployment. They’ve gone to weddings, important business dinners, and a few date nights. But none of the memories will ever come close to the good times I had with my Sandy Ridge crew. I began to wear them long enough to be seen, with flats tucked away in my purse. I danced on top of Fudrucker’s bar when we celebrated someone’s birthday. (Honestly, I think we pretended it was my birthday just so we could dance on the bar!) I’ve had those girls steal my shoes away from me more than once, toss me in the back of a Suburban with my feet as black as tar because I wasn’t allowed to wear my shoes, and I’ve laughed more than I thought possible in those shiny shoes. They sit in the back of my closet now. I actually had to dust them off when I pulled them out yesterday. I couldn’t help but giggle when I slipped them on. My toes pinched a little, and the pain was immediate, but I felt all the good times flood back in. I never knew a pair of shoes could help make some of the best friends a girl could have. I will NEVER part with these magical shoes. I’m almost 40 now, and I prefer my flats to heels, but I will forever acknowledge the power of a great pair of shoes.
Girls, I love each and every one of you. Thank you for the memories, even if they come with a wee bit of arthritis! Now let’s get together for a reunion soon! I’ll bring the shoes and wine. Rebecca, you bring the bail money. Christy, I’m putting you in charge of the hard liquor, and Shannon, you bring the recipes. Oh who am I kidding?! We’re old now. Let’s just go grab a coffee!