Clickin’ My Heels

Clickin’ My Heels
It was an autumn afternoon in Austin when the package arrived. I had waited weeks for my custom-made tap shoes, delivered all the way from Israel. I slipped my feet into the black leather oxfords, practically orgasmic at the smell, the fit, and then… the sound. One tap on the kitchen floor was like running the bow along the strings of a Stradivarius. I was having — truly, madly, deeply — a ruby slippers moment: unadulterated magic. Since then, I have had many moments of genuine pleasure slipping into my shoes. I could wax poetic about a pair of black boots I had, thick high heels and smooth sexy leather running up my shins. I still get nostalgic thinking about my first pair of grown-up Mary Janes that saw me through my first years as a teacher and seemed to go with all my loose flowing dresses. And didn’t I think I was something in my combat boots during that brooding Bohemian phase. But not until this afternoon have I had another ruby slippers moment. And this time – whaddaya know — it came from the arrival of a pair of red (thankfully, more maroon than red) sneakers.OK, let me elaborate. The sneakers are emblematic of a larger change happening in my universe right now. You see, this weekend, I drove a trunk-load of shoes down to the local vintage re-sale shop and rid myself of ALL my leather shoes. Now, I’m not going to get on a soapbox and start proselytizing — that’s not what this about. But understand that, for me, this is a huge move. It’s like everyone who goes vegetarian and gives up that almighty makes-you-weak-in-the-knees hamburger. Lucky me, I’ve never been a hamburger person; in fact, I’ve been a salad artist of sorts since the age of three or four, so going veg was, I know, not as much of a challenge for me as it is for those who are not as wild about their greens. But how I do love those leather shoes! Admittedly, I think I actually clung to the boot box, lingered just a little too long not to notice, before handing it over to the boutique’s salesperson.

So my challenge now, after surrendering the beloved shoes, is finding the vegan replacements. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that even my fabric pumps were not acceptable (ugh — leather soles!). For a few minutes, I honestly thought I bit off more than I could chew, as I stood there sizing up the empty shelves: all that remained were a couple pairs of flip-flops, a pair of Converse, and a single pair of vegan T-straps I ordered before the great purge just to make sure I wouldn’t end up with a bunch of sorry-looking footwear. Oh yeah – and despite my vegan, activist ways, I have no desire to re-invent myself into something too crunchy; I don’t need to look like I’m always about to go on a hike. Shoe maven (or whore, depending on how you want to look at it) that I am, I insist on animal-friendly shoes without sacrificing my urban style.

This would be an adventure, I assured myself, standing barefoot in the closet. I started researching online and ordering judiciously. I spent hours (and hours) looking at the same web sites over and over again, trying to be a wise shopper even though I was stumbling around completely new territory. Back to basics. How hard can it be to find a cool pair of black flats?

I don’t know when they arrived exactly. I was heading out to teach a yoga class when I saw the package outside my front door. Considering the context, it would be lovely to imagine they simply descended from the heavens, appeared out of thin air (OK – if you can indulge in some good old-fashioned willing suspension of disbelief and forget about the UPS label for a minute, it really does help underscore the significance of the moment). I swept the package up in my arms and took it along for the ride, all the while filled with anticipation.

I opened the package still sitting in the car, outside the yoga studio; I simply couldn’t wait until after class. I opened up the shoebox, and the first thing I noticed was the noticeable absence of that usual first waft of leather smell. I picked up the faux suede shoe with pure delight, a bliss that lasted throughout my yoga class. I wondered if my students sensed a little more bounce in my Surya Namaskar, caught my smile as I floated into plank pose. I’d like to say I was able to stay present, stay in the moment on the mat: but the truth is, I was excited about my new shoes and couldn’t wait until I would get to try them on.

Finally back at home, I hurriedly laced each shoe, always a little clumsy about lacing over rather than under. Still, I wanted to get it right. I wanted them all laced up and ready to go when I slipped them on. Feet in, I pulled the laces tighter for a snug fit and then stood, shifting my weight from side to side and admiring my happy feet. Yes, my feet were indeed happy, along with the rest of me. I felt like a million bucks, so much so that I started doing time steps right there in the kitchen, in my new shoes, with three very puzzled dogs looking on. And it gets even better. The brand name of the shoes, visible on the sides and tongue: MACBETH. So this vegan-shoe-lovin’ Shakespearean couldn’t have found a more perfect shoe!

Well, I am still looking for vegan tap shoes, if any of you come across a pair. In the mean time, check out Moo Shoes. I dare ya.