This afternoon I attended the funeral for a woman who lived a good, long 96 years on this earth. I listened to her granddaughter, a dear friend of mine, fondly remember how her grandmother was to blame for her love of shoes and bags. I mentioned this to my husband hours later over pints of Barking Squirrel and a plate of pulled pork nachos.
“Don’t all women love shoes and bags to some degree?”
“Sure, I suppose,” I said. “My love may have shifted a bit in the last little while.”
There is no doubt I have a modest Nine West pump and peep toe collection from my former life, hanging in our front hall closet. They are the best brand for my runners’ feet: wide at the toes and narrow in the heel. I think they call that having duck feet. Each pair has its story. The sensible patent leather navy blue pair got me through an accounting interview at Houghton Mifflin, one of my first feeler interviews when I contemplated leaving public accounting. The three inch black pumps took me from power meetings at the office as a CFO to anniversary dinners. And the leopard print peep toes were fun at weddings. My bags were more functional than stylish. My sister kept me semi-up-to-date with bags from Yak Pak, including Levi’s and Dickie’s brands. My sister-in-laws coaxed me into leather purses with small forays into Coach. I couldn’t see the point of paying so much for something on which I would inevitably spill coffee.
These days I am more likely to wear trail runners or my REI hikers than a slick set of stilettos. Those hikers have been with me for nine years. We hiked the Grand Canyon together, braved winter camping in -30 degree Celsius conditions, and paddled and portaged all around Woodland Caribou Provincial Park. The trail runners and I scrambled up the trail at Stawamus Chief Provincial Park in Squamish, British Columbia, learned how to canoe in November in Ontario, and explored Toronto’s countless trails. As far as my bags are concerned, I am more focused on how many liters my packs (yes, plural) can manage than finding that perfect red leather tote I saw a woman carry on an Air Canada flight. I love figuring out how best to pack my pack, playing three dimensional Tetris before each trip.
While I don’t expect to go back into the corporate world any time soon, I figure I will hang on to the pumps and peep toes for the occasional wedding or outing when I tire of wearing outdoorsy clothes. In the meantime I enjoy creating new memories and stories to be told with these REI hikers.