Back to School Shoes

I’m going to tell you the boring stuff first.

I have problems.

I was at the ripe old age of 24 when I noticed the first patch. But everyone gets crusty elbows every blue moon, right? Not moisturizing enough. Taking my baths too hot. Crusty elbow DNA. That’s what I figured anyway.

I started being more deliberate with body lotion. Nivea, to be exact. The good shit. It didn’t help. I invested in slightly more expensive good shit. It didn’t help. I spent another small fortune on a cream marketed towards eczema suffers. No dice. Probably because I don’t have eczema. I single handily kept the lights on in your local 24 hour Walgreens for months while purchasing nearly every body lotion, every pine tar smelling salve, every therapeutic elbow butter and nothing. My crusty elbow grew even crustier before the same crust popped up on my opposite elbow.

“I’m newly divorced. I need to get FINE. I’ll never have sex again with these elbows.”

So, I broke down and made an appointment with a local dermatologist who diagnosed me with psoriasis. He prescribed a topical ointment and my post-divorce journey to getting fine and having sex again began.

Fast forward 12 years.

My days of wearing 3 inch heels to work daily are far behind me. Apparently, psoriasis isn’t just a crusty elbow thing. It’s a crusty skin thing (it’s so much more than that but I won’t bore you. We have Google now). Some psoriasis also comes with its very own special brand of arthritis and as a bonus plantar fasciitis or heel spurs.

I’ve long suspected I had the arthritis bit. Never knew about the heel spur thing. I figured the pain was from years of wearing heels. I didn’t know I had heel spurs until I broke one 2 years ago, after falling from a ladder. My God, the pain.

I told you I have problems.

So, no heels. At least not daily. Still, I keep them in my closet, on display so I can look at them. They are just so pretty. I’ll wear them on special occasions, of course, or when I’m feeling frisky. I’ll almost always wear them when I have an important meeting. Today was a meeting day. A big meeting.

“Damn, it! My best black heels are under my desk at work in the pile where hurting shoes often go to die. Guess I’ll wear my back to school shoes into the office and change there.”

Back to school shoes?

Yeah, I know. I’m 30-something and not in school. But when your Bomb Ass Mama buys you a pair of shoes in August, just before school starts, you call them back to school shoes. At least funny people do.

My feet had been hurting for months. My right foot especially. I needed a pair of cushy black flats. We walked into Belk and I found these. Ugly, I know, but damn comfortable.

Fast forward to present day.

I cut grass in my back to school shoes last weekend. They were coated with grass from the first cut of the season so I left them outside on the patio with plans to clean them up later. I never did so when I went to grab them this morning they were still covered in fine green grass clippings and now a fine lovely yellow coating of pollen, too. I threw my cushy rubber abominations into the kitchen sink and started scrubbing, cleaned them up the best I could and hastily wiped them down with a bath towel. They were still too damp to slide on before walking outside into 18-degree weather, so what does any industrious problem solver who is in a hurry do? She throws them in the dryer, of course.

“3 to 4 minutes will dry them perfectly. I’ll brush my teeth while they tumble and just before walking out the door into the sub-freezing temps, I’ll slide those ugly yet warm suckers on my feet.”

I brushed my teeth, spritzed my perfume, did my last mirror check, grabbed my purse and headed to the laundry room to pull my shoes from the dryer. 3 to 4 minutes had innocently turned into 10 and my back to school shoes were now an even uglier version of what they had once been, curled heel to toe. Anxious for my feet to feel their warmness, I slid them on anyway, my weight flattening them under my feet. I walked to the Keurig to brew my out-the-door cup of coffee. I checked to make sure the hair iron was off and that I’d turned out lights. As I walked through the house completing my morning checklist, I felt my shoes getting bigger, the warm rubber spreading wider under my weight, eventually slipping off and slapping the back of my heel with every new step, the way a flip flop would. I ignored what was happening, in too much of a rush to fully accept the fate of my cushy shoes. I locked the house and headed for my car and as my warm cushy back to school shoes hit the 18-degree temps they flash froze right underneath my feet – instantaneously re-sizing themselves. My size 8 shoes were now a size 11 wide.

“Deep breath. Don’t cry. You’ll ruin your mascara. Just drive.”

I hobbled through the parking lot at work, concentrating on my gait, determined to keep my new flip flops on my feet. I made it to the building without incident where I promptly changed into my heels, the ones I was now reluctantly committed to for the rest of the day. I killed it at my meeting and went about my day as if my feet didn’t feel like they’d fallen victim to a wicked and torturous eastern foot binding ritual. I smiled anyway knowing 5pm would eventually come and it did.

Remember that industrious problem solver from earlier in the day?

Determined not to be defeated, I threw my back to school shoes in the dryer again when I arrived home. Only 3 to 4 minutes this time as that was enough time to re-achieve the perfect heel to toe curl. I knew better than to slide them on my feet while warm this time so I put them in the freezer first – chilling the rubber before putting them on my feet and attempting to re-shape them to their original size 8. It worked. My back to school shoes are no longer a size 11 wide. Instead they are a size 6.

I tried.


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