Yesterday, I spent the weekend in Los Angeles to give readings from Silver Sparrow at Eso Won Bookstore and the Los Angeles Times Festival of the Book. For both events, I wore the shoes you see pictured here. I know they aren’t much to look at. They’re not red-bottoms, or Jimmy Choo’s. But when I bought them, about twelve years ago, they were a real investment. When I was in graduate school, I was an obsessive bargain hunter. I was poor as a little mouse—living on approximately $1,200 a month. I saw these shoes at some closeout store. I still remember the description—Via Spiga, open-toe slingback, croco-embossed. That last phrase, croco-embossed, really got me. I was in shoe love. But the cost-- $73! It was such an indulgence. I decided to buy them because I was giving a reading from my work-in-progress (Leaving Atlanta!) and I wanted to look nice. I felt vain and silly for spending so much on a pair of shoes I was convinced I would never wear again. Afterall, how often did I need to look nice? I was just a young woman with no money, chasing this writing dream.
I remembered this as I packed the shoes because I had left them behind last month when I traveled to New York to speak at the Harvard Club. It was sort of a pain to get them back. My assistant, Sarah, had to call half a dozen people to find them, and then there was the cost to have them overnighted. And face it, the shoes really aren’t that fabulous. Inside they are a little worn, so my feet slip in them and after a few hours my baby toe hurts. But I can’t give up on my croco-embossed sling backs.
It’s not that they are a reminder of how far I’ve come, though is it nice to look at them that way. But I like to think they remind me that I’ve always had my own back. I bought myself a pair of fancy shoes although that negative voice that lurks in my head told me I didn’t deserve them, that I would never need them again. That I shouldn’t get accustomed to speaking in public. When I bought them, the negative voice told me that I was vain and shallow. But the real story is that I invested in myself. That I had a feeling that maybe the best was yet to come.