By Janet Call
I had just spent the better part of the day cleaning out a closet that had been neglected for far too long. The Goodwill bag was nearly full, and the remaining clothes hung neatly, even color coded, on hangers specially purchased for the project. The overhead shelf now sported dividers that kept my sweaters within easy reach; the few belts I kept hung perfectly from the new hooks I had installed. I felt a sense of satisfaction from the newly culled, minimalist effect of my efforts. I was just about to tie up the donation bag when I spotted them: slightly scuffed, long forgotten, sparkly bright red high heels.
I picked one up and inspected it carefully. This shoe and its partner had taken me to some of the best experiences of my life. For a few minutes, my thoughts wandered to back to my sister’s 50th wedding anniversary, the last time that my siblings and most of their families had all celebrated together. The memory was so vivid I swear I could hear our combined laughter, rising like one glorious symphony. The shoes made the trip with me to the wedding of Maya, one of my favorite students, whose marriage had been carefully arranged by her parents and that of her new husband. I wore them to my first retirement party, recalling how stylish I felt in a sleek black dress with red accents and how bittersweet it was to bid farewell to my lifetime friends and colleagues. These same shoes accompanied me to my first Broadway play, Chorus Line, and they softly kept time as the actors belted out “What I Did for Love.” I did not routinely wear high heels, partly out of practicality, and partly out of a desire to save them for special events.
So, there I was, shoe in hand, mired in memory, knowing in the back of my mind that my red high heel days were over. These days, I am lucky to stay balanced in my specially fitted Ragged Mountain tennis shoes. I did the only thing I could. I took one long last look and thanked them for being there for me. I placed them in the bag, pulled the ties shut, and tied them in a bow. Like my perky breasts, 20/20 vision, and youth, just like that, they disappeared.
Janet Call is a loving grandmother, an avid reader, and wine connoisseur. She retired after over 40 years as a teacher and published her first novel Empty Desk at age 68.