My idea of heaven is hiding under a rack in Bergdorf Goodman’s until closing time, then reveling in the shoe collection until 6am. Steve Madden. Manolo Blahnik. Isabel Marant. Jimmy Choo. Any one of these words sends a neuronal strike down my back like the mention of Pottery Barn does for people who love to decorate. Don’t get me wrong, I have yet to own a pair. When I am not working full time, studying, going to the doctor, or with family, I am on the light rail, I commit the sin of coveting thy neighbor’s shoes. Someday…someday, I whisper to the shoes, you will be mine.
That was until my ankle gave out last week. My incredible Syrian rheumatologist took my ankle, looked at my leopard flats and sighed empathetically. “I don’t know why there are so many incompetent people in this world but we are going to have to face the truth. You are going to need expensive old lady shoes.”
Most people, especially those with a disability, have gone through the ‘Bart Simpson Fallen Arches’ episode of life. To refresh your memory, Bart visits Dr. Hibbert and is diagnosed with lazy eye, receiving obnoxiously large glasses. Next, the optometrist suspects something is wrong with his skin, referring him to the dermatologist who, in turn, gives him a greasy substance for his scalp. To top it off, he is admitted to podiatriary where he is given two enormous black clunky shoes.
When I picked up my Bart Simpson special order shoes, I truly did appreciate the effort of the salespeople to try to get me excited about how comfortable and even how possibly cute they were. Hey, at least they aren’t your parents orthotics! Yet, when I got home, I found myself staring at them from afar, waiting for them to make a Machiavellian move. Obviously the shoes were not the actual problem; it was my inability to come to peace with myself as a beautiful, intelligent young woman with a hurdle to overcome.
Three days later, like a miffed politician crossing the partisan aisle, I sat down and bartered out a deal with the clunky shoes.
First, I will wear shoes for safety, take good care of said shoes and will wear them without a word of complaint.
Second, I will not settle for less. Women with disabilities tend to be viewed as unseen, undesirable almost desexualized creatures. Estimated ugly shoes, I am getting my hair, eyebrows and nails done on a regular basis.
Third, I will commit to myself. Like a lot of people with big communities, I do a lot for others. Until February, physical therapy, eating well, consistent exercise and rest will be my mantra.
Fourth, this is my episode of ‘Bart Simpson Fallen Arches’. At the end of said episode, if it is time to close this chapter of my life, I will open the next one with a dress long enough to cover my shoes, an elegant satin emerald gown in time to eat grapes at New Year’s.