The Lucky Shopping Manual by Kim France and Andrea Linett offers a broad range of fashion advice and tips on everything from skirts to shirts to purses to (you guessed it) shoes. In fact, they list just a few of the shoe varieties available to all of us “Shoe Lovers”: Strappy, Ankle Strap, Platform, Cut-Out, Stiletto, Thong, Flat, Two-Tone, Ankle Boot, Wedge, T-strap, Loafer, Clog, D’orsay, Mule, Metallic, Round Toe, Embellished, Kitten Heel, Flip Flop, Slide and Knee Boot.
When you factor in color, brand, heel height, the options are endless. But there’s always a pair of shoes that we default to as we go about the tasks of our everyday lives. I like to call these the “Routine Shoes.”
After years of working a desk job in an office, and when I’m in the midst of a wardrobe dilemma or running late (if you know me, you know this happens a lot, not a morning person) I’ve learned that you’ll always be safe in a pair of black pumps. And then of course, during warm weather months, nothing could be easier than slipping on a pair of flip flops before heading out to grocery shop, run to the bank, mail a letter, or peruse the local bookstore.
As time passes, I’m amazed at how life seems to blend together. I get so used to going through the motions that I miss the moments that comprise them. And sometimes, alarmingly, I feel as though I’m losing myself in the midst of it all.
I suppose the fact of the matter is this: we all want our lives to amount to more than punching in our Plus Card numbers at Kroger, cranking out a half hour at gym on the elliptical like hamsters, diligently paying our bills month after month. There’s nothing wrong with these activities. But they can’t be the only thing that defines us.
Five years ago, I sat in my parents’ living room as a college sophomore carefully packing for my upcoming study abroad trip to Spain. I knew the trip of a lifetime awaited me, and I was being ever-so-careful about what I packed. During one preparatory shopping trip, my mom and I found the most perfect pair of shoes: a green, floral strappy number that was just to die for (pictured). What’s more, they went perfectly with a skirt she’d been making for me for my trip. As I packed them away, I had no way of knowing that weeks later, I would be wearing these shoes as I sang and laughed with newfriends in the Plaza Mayor of Segovia at 3 in the morning, as patrons of local cafes sat sipping wine by candlelight. It was one of the happiest nights of my life.
Aside from being the experience of a lifetime, there was nothing routine about the time spent in Spain. Everyday was new—so there were no motions to go through, no already established routine. Even the classes we attended changed on a daily basis. Life was ours to create at every step (and sometimes at the guidance of our teachers). whether we were traveling to Salamanca, Toledo, Salabreña or Granada; attending a local festival; experiencing new food at a hole-in-the-wall diner; or singing new Spanish songs with new Spanish friends at our favorite local hang out (Tres Bs) everything blended to become one grand, beautiful experience.
Whenever I feel bogged down by routine, I sometimes grab my “Spain shoes” from their shelf, put them on, kick my feet up on the coffee table, sip a glass of red wine, and flip through all of my photos from the trip. While I understand I'm admitting publicly to the strange habit single girls can form when left alone for too long, the few moments of nostalgia provided by this temporary retreat is a much-needed reality check: a reminder that I have wonderful life ahead of me and even more memorable moments are left to be experienced. It's the kind of thing that motivates you to shrug off one measly little chore and do that thing you really love, whether it be running, painting, reading, writing, etc.
We can all continue to love our Routine Shoes for the comfort they give us and security they represent. But let’s make a point this week to put them aside for at least one night and pull on a pair of strappy heals, embellished flats, or trendy wedges—whatever you prefer—instead. It's not where we go in them that really matters, but rather the memories we make in them on our way.