I awakened at four this morning thinking about shoes.
I found a pair of chunky black leather Zeetas on e-bay this weekend. I bought them for ten bucks, about 1/15 of what they might cost retail. I danced around the dining room, happy with the purchase. Simply put, I walk better in Zeetas and they’re hard to find. These new-without-box tie shoes will make my winter easier.
But this morning I thought about another pair of shoes, an eight-dollar-and-fifty-cent pair of Converse that my mother forced me to wear when I was thirteen. The shoes signified her frustration with my “walking problem”. They substituted for the expensive prescription lace-ups that a doctor wanted her to buy for me. She had no money for such luxuries.
I hated those shoes, and even more did I despise the cordovan brogues which my grandmother bought that weekend at the store next to my grandparents’ hearing aid business. That gave me two pair: The converse tennis shoes for every-day, and the brogues for school and church.
When I got back from my grandparents’ house, I walked the three blocks to Northland Shopping Center and paid six dollars to have my hair hacked short. My father stood over me, furious, quivering, demanding an explanation. I lifted one heavy shoe and said, “If I’m going to have ugly feet, I might as well have an ugly head, too.” My mother pulled my father away, murmuring, as I fled into my room and buried my face in my pillow.
In the gloom of my bedroom this morning, I remembered the stamp of chagrin on my mother’s face and the anger in my father’s voice. I closed my eyes and felt the remorse that I know my mother would not invite for me, that she had not allowed me to suffer all those years ago. She knew how much I hated being different; she knew that I loathed all the outward trappings of my disability.
A few minutes later, I checked my e-mail and scanned Social Media. In my Facebook newsfeed, I came across an eleven-minute video which shattered any residual resentment that might linger in my heart. I watched it through twice, then got out of bed to start my day.
Step by shaky step, I move forward.
It’s the twenty-fifth day of the thirty-fourth month of My Year Without Complaining. Life continues.