Practically impractical.

Posted on
May 31, 2011
Posted in: Random Musings

They are four-inch-tall, rhinestone-studded confections. And they were probably a mistake.

They are also taupe.

And yet, I regret nothing.

I found them in a boutique near Piazza Navona, as the rain fell on our last morning in Rome. I saw them in the window, and stopped abruptly. The way romantic leads do in Hollywood movies. I stopped, I stared. The rain fell.

I walked in, never taking my eyes off them. The girls working in the shop spoke to me in English. I answered in Italian. This was all second nature to me: ask me to delve into Italian after a few months of neglect, and my words unravel slowly as I contemplate each one. Tell me to purchase shoes, and the words dribble off my tongue like a native. These phrases I exchange with the shop girls were never learned; they’ve always been with me.

I try them on in a size 37, and ask the price. 115 Euros, which seems like a steal.

“Does that include a sales tax?” I ask, and before the girl can answer, I continue: “Nevermind. I want them, so it doesn’t matter.” (And no, they did not. There’s no such thing in Italy – only VAT. I need to move there.)

They are engineering marvels, and near flawless in their construction. Despite a tottering heel, I am able to glide across a room smoothly. Suddenly, I understand how Italian women navigate cobblestone streets in stilettos. For years, I assumed it was a gene I had failed to inherit; now I know – it was simply a pair I had neglected to buy.

I try to imagine the outfits I will pair them with, the smug response I will give to people who inquire where I got them (because surely, someone will inquire, right?). And yet I feel like they are too much: too expensive, too glitzy, too impractical.

I feel like they were a mistake.

They are not the shoes of a travel writer. Travel writers needs shoes that accommodate orthotics. They needs shoes that will go well with the single pair of khakis and two (two!) denim shirts that they packed. They need flat, practical, designed-for-walking-if-you-can-actually-call-them-“designed” shoes, and will fight for hours on the Rick Steves’ forums as to their merits.

And yet I bought them anyway, unable to leave my mother’s homeland without them. Not only because I had never met their equal in the states, but because they were Italian. I wanted them not just because of their loveliness, but because, weirdly, they made me feel like I fit in amongst people to whom I am normally a foreigner. Like I was somehow connected to all the things I was about to leave behind. I was taking my ancestry with me, gently folded in tissue paper inside a shoe box.

They are not the shoes of a travel writer. In this respect, they were probably a mistake. But they are lovely and fierce and quintessentially Italian. And so I regret nothing.

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  • Substitute French for Italian, and you and I are essentially the same person (well, I am not a travel writer, but I am a more-or-less fluent French speaker with a French mother), and EVERY TIME I am in Paris, I purchase a hideously expensive pair of shoes for exactly these reasons. And yes, someone will ask, and you will get a little thrill when you answer “Rome.”

    • Everywhereist

      I cannot wait. And after reading your blog, I, too, think we might be separated at birth, dear lady.

  • pam

    I have a similar story about a ukulele. And I also regret nothing.

    • Everywhereist

      I am dying to hear it. 🙂

  • Shoes that make you happy are *never* a mistake.

  • lisa

    High heels make your boobs look great. (Not you you, but the general you.) Something about the way you have to walk in them. Great shoes/perky boobs are *never* a mistake.

    Trust me, I have the wisdom of years. I’m way older than you. Treat this as motherly advice.

    And wear em around Rand. Often.

    • Everywhereist

      (Immediately proceeds to put on high heels, and stares at own boobs in mirror.)


      • lisa

        I owed ya one. The baby powder/shoe tip you posted about some time ago has been a lifesaver (toesaver?)!!

  • Nicole

    Wait? What baby powder/shoe tip? I can only assume that this will prevent smash-toe? Pass it along, ladies, please!

  • Debra

    Your honesty about your love for shoes is refreshing. I could walk past a jewelry store without a second glance but a beautiful pair of shoes will stop me dead in my tracks. My feet may hurt after walking to and from work in Manhattan and I may hate myself in 15 years when if my feet become deformed, but there is something about a good shoe that makes you feel confident, sexy (especially if your boobs look better because of them :p), and classy. And lets not forget they always fit when even those skinny jeans dont. I tell myself to never regret a shoe purchase, just find an excuse to wear them more.

    I’ve never followed a blog before and admit I found your blog after the Time magazine article, but I am looking forward to reading more of yours. Cheers and Congrats on the acclaim!

    • Everywhereist

      Thanks, Debra! I’ll admit, one of my favorite things about a fabulous pair of shoes is that they always fit. One cannot eat themselves out of a pair of shoes. 🙂

  • Hi, greetings.. I also shoes lover. I have a hope that one day could go shopping outside my country. Reading this post made ​​my desire is greater. 🙂 I never knew when my hopes can be realized. Nice blog…

  • Kitty

    Baby powder and naked feet inside shoes are the best combination ever. I don’t understand how come the tip never made it to the US

  • I have abnormally large feet. THEY ARE THE MOST FUCKING LARGEST THING ON MY BODY. I wish that some of the largeness in them would magically transfer to my boobs somehow. But, alas, we must live with what we were handed with. Or wait until we have amassed enough money for surgery of massive proportions. OR we/I can wear heels! I swear, these things make me feel like my feet have shrunk four sizes. They make me feel like I’m a fairy princess that can dance on clouds with her dainty feet. This vision is shattered when I wear flats the next day.

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