Saturday, April 9, 2011

Bonnie Willis: Raspberry Shoes

The exercise that led to the following piece was to recall an object that had a lasting impact on your life.

In 1966, when I was living and working in Manhattan, I bought a pair of deep rosy pink shoes; the color of raspberry sorbet. They were not expensive, but pretty shoes with sling backs and not too high heels. One might think that these would be for special occasions—however, this was the era before women wore sneakers and changed into their fancier shoes when they got to work, so I wore these or another pair of a similar style for the walk each day. We lived on East 81st and I worked in a design studio on West 39th Street off Fifth Avenue, so the walk was long, especially with the long city blocks. I soon discovered that my raspberry shoes went with everything I wore to work; a little black dress—stunning. Colorful sixties-print dress—great, especially if it was in one of my fabric designs.

I wore the shoes practically every day. They always made me feel happy and gave a bounce to my step. I believe the shoes expressed my most positive creative nature. What I learned was to follow your bliss. Adopt the unique and unusual as your usual, if this is what your true self requires to glow with life. Eventually, the shoes became too worn to wear, so I put them back into their green and white polka-dot shoebox. I kept the box in the back of my closet as a reminder of that happy time. Every time I opened the box, I was back in those moments of confidence and joy.

Last year, I was in the Twin Cities visiting my family. My sisters and I spent a number of hours in one of our favorite places—a thrift shop, of course. The best one in St. Paul is the Unique Thrift Store. (We refer to it as the Unique Boutique.) The store is large, clean, organized with great stuff. We were having lots of fun finding clothes for ourselves and each other, and then I saw them—a brand-new looking pair of shoes in the same beautiful pink! They were just my size. I bought them immediately.

Photo by Jonathan Kim for Creative Commons

1 comment:

Elena said...

I loved your story!