Friday, January 18, 2013

Top of My Bucket List

As a child attending school in England, school uniforms were required, and the color, functionality and style of the shoes we wore mattered. I think because of the fact there was little variance in the clothes we wore, our shoes seemed to stand out all the more. (You can't get too creative with grey skirts, white shirts, ties and grey or green sweaters. The boys wore the same but obviously wore trousers instead of skirts.)

At least for me that was the case. I noticed everyone else's shoes. I have many memories as a child noticing and loving shoes. One of them are my memories of walking down Sutton High Street (most often with my dad) and seeing all the different shoe shops there. There were lots of them and I loved walking by the outside displays that bragged rows and rows of shoes suitable for most standard school uniform rules.

Except, apparently, most of the shoes those shelves held were "cheap" and "low-quality" and the fabulous shoes with diamonds on the front, or a bow on the side, or slightly wedged heels were deemed inappropriate and impractical for school.

By my parents.

My parents insisted on the best quality. They shelled out the bigger bucks (pounds) once or twice a year for high quality shoes that would last the test of time. In all practicalities, it is a very wise thing to do: do buy higher quality shoes once or twice a year, versus lower quality shoes that would need replacing every few weeks. But as a child?

It was miserable. Those Clarks Shoes lasted fooorrreeevvvveeeerrrrr. I swear, unless I outgrew them (my parents were pros at feeling the tops of toes and declaring there to be "loads of room still"), I was stuck with the same old pair of shoes for almost the entire school year. Not even a pair of scissors taken to the buckle could destroy the durability of those shoes.

I mean, not that I would know whether or not you could cut off the strap of a buckle to look like the leather strap tore, and thus attempt to hasten the need for new shoes.

It didn't even matter that the shoes got scuffed up. Because almost faithfully every weekend my dad polished my brother's and my shoes ready for the school week. Nothing wore through the leather of those Clarks leather shoes. Nothing.

Well I mean, I wouldn't know whether or not dragging my feet with the top of the shoes along the pavement on purpose would cause damaging scuffs or not.

(Almost 25 years later, I have a love/hate relationship with the smell of shoe polish. Love the smell when I think about the fond memories of lovingly polished shoes each Monday morning, but hate the smell when I think about the SAME lovingly polished shoes every Monday morning for an entire school year.)

Incidentally, the shoe polishing must have begun after my 1st grade class photo (which I can not find) when I was seated on the front row with very clearly, unpolished (I'm sure Clarks) shoes.

This photo is a landmark for me. I have the best shoes on the row! Way to go mother! Perhaps the one and only time in a school photo I didn't have sensible shoes on.
(Nursery School Summer 1978, I'm on the front row, 3rd from the left in those brown sandals (cutest shoes on  the row) and darling blue sundress (which I still have.) My brother Matthew is seated to the right in the striped shirt.)

As for this photo? Yeah well, not only had my mother obviously jumped on the sensible shoe band wagon by then, I was also recovering from an awful haircut courtesy of my brother, Matthew.
(Nursery School Autumn 1978, I'm on the front row, third from the left in that awful mustard colored shirt, wearing sensible shoes and awful hair.)

Last year I sat with a group of women, and as an opening, ice-breaker type question we were asked to share something on our bucket list.

I was one of the first to be asked and I replied, "To own a pair of shoes for every day of the year." I felt mildly self-conscious of my worldliness, after everyone that followed answered with more worthy things like, "Find a cure for cancer, create world peace, and put an end to homelessness."

I blame the fact one of my most focused goals in life (a pair of shoes for every day of the year) is worldly, selfish and frivolous entirely upon my parents and the company, Clarks Shoes. Of which, I will never again own a pair of their shoes.

Because if you can't tell already, I go for quantity (of shoes), not quality.
I've been there, done that, and don't like it.

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