Wednesday, February 25, 2009

My Sister's Shoes

I don't wear my sister's shoes currently, although one sister has promised to ship a pair she bought for herself because they don't fit her.

The title of this post refers to the name of a store I used to window-shop in front of in Chicago back in my penniless college days, and I think it was called My Sister's Shoes. It was on Division about a mile and a half from my dorm, and I would sometimes walk past it on my way home from the Jewel.

I went to a college in the city for about a year and a half, and during the last few months, I was feeling antsy. It was summer school, and I was only attending in June and July because I couldn't stomach spending those months back home in Indiana where I had no friends and no job—nothing but WGN and Chips Ahoy and a lawn mower that was inevitably waiting for me in the garage.

I had quit my job in the city in order to fit in as many summer school classes as a I could, and I was down to my last $200, most of which I had borrowed. Come to think of it, I had borrowed it from the sister who is about to ship shoes. I shoved the cash under my mattress, seriously, and kept it there to pick at as I needed. Burritos were $2 at Guadalaharry's, as were egg rolls at the dump not far from my dorm, so I would take a few bucks here and a few bucks there.

On one of those clear, sunny and magical days Chicago carefully dispenses, my friend Gina and I walked to Jewel for some groceries and walked past My Sister's Shoes on the way back, and I spotted shoes in the window that spoke to me. They were flats, a light tan combined with an even lighter tan to create this two-toned leather marvel with little straps and round toes. I couldn't afford them, I knew, but they said, "Take us home. We'll be good to you." I didn't.

It wasn't long after that that I decided to quit school, to move back home to the house I was avoiding all summer, and to work so I could afford another year or two of school. And in that state of mind, facing an uncertain future and a new chapter in life, I remembered the stash under my mattress. Some of it was meant for shoes, surely, so I grabbed just enough, and Gina and I literally ran all the way to the shoe store.

I bought the two-tones and wore them every day for over a year, or something like that. They were snappy with or without little white socks, and I loved them. I loved them so much that I saved them for years afterward, even when they were too worn out to ever wear. I moved them to New Jersey after husband and I married, and I moved them to Ohio later on. They never left the back of the closet except when they were shoved under the bed, but I couldn't bring myself to throw them out.

Eventually I decided to be less sentimental about things like shoes, although I still have the band jacket I got in high school, and I threw them away.

Have you ever held onto something like shoes long after they have served their purpose just because they reminded you of a certain state of mind or a certain sunny day or a certain friend who ran with you over a mile just to help you to be impetuous?


dive said...

I love that the shoes spoke to you, Robyn.

I tend to hang on to way too much sentimental stuff. Every time I go up into the attic I think about clearing it all out but I never do.
Sigh …

lynn said...

Oh yes I do hang to such things. I have my boys' first shoes of course, plus I have a collection of very stylish and expensive shoes of my mother's from the sixties. I also have one or two lovely dresses of hers (she was awfully glam) from the time, a black jacket she wore and passed to me, but out of all that...
my most precious is a pretty simple cotton summer dress of mine, white with blue flowers with full skirt and puffed short sleeves which I wore when my boys were small. My eldest, Arthur, used to adore it and each time we went out he would plead with me to wear it. It was honestly nothing special and on occasions I was embarrassed to wear it out, it became so ... used...! It is, however, pretty, and I suppose very feminine and Mummy-like which is why he adored it. It hangs with pride in my wardrobe today. I might put it on in summer when he visits to produce a smirk.

I wish you still had your shoes...:(

Cheri @ Blog This Mom! said...

Oh. Yes. I hang on. Oh. Yes.

I love finding something so perfect that you wear it every day forever. Your shoe story is awesome like that.

Sister # 1 said...

I don't remember lending you money, but totally approve of you spending it on shoes. I did the same thing in college on the day I had lost my job - bought a pair of Eigner sandals with my last $20 - kept them for 15 years. I asscoiated it with Daddy buying a new car the day he lost a job (1959). It's in our blood - we can't help it! I'm on my way to UPS.

Shan said...

I love stories like these Robyn! College in Chicago! Oh the fun to be had there! I love it there! I have walked a few blisters on my feet visiting my brother when he lived there.

One of the few things I have saved is a white jean jacket from high school that I painted a huge Egyptian picture on the back of. I just can't let go of it. Also a tee shir that you can see completely through. It's filled with holes and would be obsene to wear out. I've mentioned it to Katie before on her blog. It has a vintage lady on it and says " Every morning I wake up and thank God for my ability to accessorize." It was so me then. :)

Shazza said...

Robyn - I really, really LOVE this story and yes, I have done the same thing.

Anytime you and Hubby want to visit NJ again, you are welcome here. We've got plenty of room!

Sassy Sundry said...

That's great.

I have a sweatshirt from my senior year in college. It's gross, but I still wear it.

MmeBenaut said...

Yes I do but mainly because my mother threw out everything and I have nothing at all from my childhood. Now I have way too many clothes and shoes lurking in the cupboard but my niece Amy has recently discovered that we have the same shoe size and I have given her some of the high heeled shoes that I'll never wear again and she loves them. She has also started borrowing some of my clothes. I should say that she could wear anything at all and still look glamorous - at 26 she is so incredibly beautiful that it makes ones heart ache just to look at her. I guess that you must feel that with your girls too.

Anonymous said...

I believe that the store you are referring to in your memories belonged to my uncle, Bob Champness. He opened the store in the early 1970's and was in business for about 10 or so years before moving to California. He has since passed away, but he would be so happy to know that he could help provide such a wonderful memory with that special pair of shoes!

Scout said...

Anonymous, thank you for telling me about your uncle. He had the coolest shoe store around.