Waiting for the Perfect Day

Yesterday was the perfect day to wear the most beautiful boots that I own.

I fell in love with these boots immediately: they are the perfect height, made of butter-soft leather, lined with suede. The black finish is flawless. I waited until they were on sale and then forked over more money than I’ve ever paid for shoes before, at my favorite shoe store that was, alas, done in by Covid.

I was happy that the stars aligned so that I could wear my boots yesterday. I don’t wear them often because I’m afraid of marring the finish. I avoid wearing them in the winter because of the salt and snow-melt chemicals. (Although it hasn’t snowed here in almost two years, the sidewalks are still caked in salt.)

I don’t wear them in the summer because it would be too hot. I’d like to wear them in the spring or fall – but only on days when it doesn’t threaten rain. Water would damage them. Between wearings, I store them in their original tissue-paper lined box, carefully stowed on a shelf in my closet where the cat couldn’t chew on them, and they are out of reach of floodwaters (literally, my apartment was flooded from below a few years ago and I lost a number of shoes that lived on the closet floor).

So I was excited to wear them yesterday. Wearing something beautiful gives me a lift. Every time I glanced down at them as I worked, it gave me a little jolt of joy.

About the third meeting of the day, I glanced down once more and noticed something that seemed to be stuck to the side of one of my boots. Oh no! I reached down to brush it off and realized that it was actually the thin leather layer on the outside of the boot, peeling away from the inner suede lining.

My beautiful boots are falling apart.

I have actually not worn them much, owning to the uncooperative nature of NYC weather. I’ve had them – let’s see now…. 10 years. I’ve worn them maybe 10 times. Okay, maybe 15 but certainly not 20 times.

Because I was always waiting for the perfect day, when it would be safe to wear them.

I could have been wearing them during that whole time. Sure, they might have gotten bleached by the salt or dimmed by water.

But I would have been enjoying them, experiencing that lift that I get when I wear something beautiful.

Sometimes we do things that seem practical but really aren’t: save our wedding China for special occasions that never come; wear our health down working long hours to save compulsively for a retirement that lasts too short a time. Resist the temptation to wear our favorite boots because they might get damaged, only to find that damage comes with age, regardless of whether you wear them or not.

When I cleaned out my mom’s house last summer after her death, I found so many treasures that she had held onto, treasures carefully packed in tissue paper, on shelves where they wouldn’t be damaged in a flood. Treasures that meant something to her, that she was saving for something… maybe for her children, although they had no meaning to us.

I caught sight of myself in the corner of someone’s zoom camera yesterday. Not my camera, where I am a floating head, perfectly coifed and glossed – but someone else’s camera. I almost didn’t recognize the person I’ve become over the last three years. That’s not the me that I want to be – the me that I see in situations outside work. Where is that non-work me? On a shelf in tissue-paper, waiting for the right time to come out?

What are you saving for a sunny day with the perfect temperature?

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