B is for Boots

I don't remember any time, as far back as I remember, that I didn't feel a little out of sync with the world. I never knew what to say, how not to be weird, or what to wear. I remember being at a family reunion in Saskatchewan on the back deck of my aunt and uncle's house, and my cousin walked up the steps and sat down, and she was wearing this little romper thing and looked really cute, and I just felt so jealous and defeated. Part of this was about the clothes back then, of course. For her grade eight grad, Eve looked like this:

I, on the other hand, wore this aqua green blousy monstrosity with giant pleats down my chest that would be too old for my mother now, and she's 79. And possibly a string of pearls. There was one night when I went to some dance with my boyfriend and my best friend and her boyfriend and we had a great time - I don't remember exactly what it was, but we were the youngest people there by far, and at one point, a man in his fifties or so (well I was nineteen, he might have been thirty) yelled across the room "you drunken motherfuckers!" and then saw me and said "oh not you, sweetie, the old people". I felt like I looked really cute, and I'm pretty sure I was wearing a long jean skirt, a purple turtleneck and a kelly green v-neck. The clothes were always wrong, but more than that, I was wrong in them.

And then the shoes. My feet were an absolute disaster. Every single pair of shoes ripped my heels to shreds. I usually carried bandaids, except on one memorable school trip to Ottawa where I just had to let my feet free-bleed and everyone was horrified. I couldn't wait to stop wearing shoes every summer and walk around barefoot until the soles of my feet were like iron.

I got a pair of ankle boots in high school that were pretty awesome. My mom didn't like them. Once a woman came up to me in a parking lot when I was wearing the boots with a long dress and she said "I like your old-fashioned look. It's cute". My mom said she was probably joking. 

So it wasn't until I was in university that I saw a pair of combat boots and thought "hey. I'm practically a grown-ass adult. I have my own money. I can buy those if I want to". And when I slipped them on it was like my feet were in a whole new world. I actually ran into my ex-boyfriend at a party and he said he liked them and when I said "they don't give me blisters!" he said "oh my GOD, I'm so HAPPY FOR YOU" (knowledge of the foot carnage was widespread).

I stopped wearing them for a while after I had the kids, maybe because they didn't feel mom-ish, maybe because they would have taken too long to put on. Then we were visiting my sister in London and I found Doc Martens, which made me feel young again, WITH ZIPPERS, because I knew I was not. One night I ran into Eve's friend while I was wearing them and her dad said "oh, you have the Doc Marten Sidesteps" which I thought was great because if I knew what they were called I could buy them again, and then he said "they don't make those anymore", thanks a lot, just casually break my heart (feet), Davis's dad, no problem at all. 

When I was getting ready to go to Blissdom Canada with Hannah and Nicole (HI HANNAH AND NICOLE), there was an eighties night and I was stressing over what to wear and Nicole said "just wear Doc Martens and a dress" - oh, like I wear pretty much every day?

When the Sidesteps wore out I bit the bullet and bought lace-up ones again. I have more time to wiggle them on these days, and they make me feel not cool, but grounded, and comfortable, and a tiny bit less out of step (ha ha) with the world. 


Ernie said…
I'm dying that the old boyfriend knew of the foot difficulties. Also, you not knowing an 'old' guy's age because you were 19 and you think he was 50 but he could've been like 30 made me burst out laughing.

I've never been good at putting an outfit together. I have an excuse to look dishevled and dowdy now - I babysit, and I save my 'good' clothes for non spit-up times. Growing up I had to wear my older, BUT SHORTER, sisters' hand me downs. Well, that made for some low self esteem moments. I always wore floods. My feet might not be scarred like yours, but I'm scarred, damn it.

Love that you found boots that work for you. I will only wear specific brands now, because they offer good support. Fortunately, we live in an age when shoes with support do not have to look like nurse's shoes.
Suzanne said…
I know the exquisite twisting uncertainty of not feeling at home in your clothes, and not fitting in. It's awful. I feel it to this day -- I've never really been able to find a "style." I feel like I've always been trying out trends, to see what works... and to find that sense of belonging, but I've never been able to get it right. It bothers me less these days, probably because I go out into the world less. But when I have to be in a situation that involves other people, I always always feel uncomfortable and out of place.

And to continue the weird series of things we have in common: I CANNOT find a shoe that doesn't rip my feet to shreds. Heels, yes. But also pinky toes and that bone on the outside edge of the big toe. Constantly in a state of blister. Even my sneakers, for Pete's sake, chafe at my heels. I have a stash of bandaids and blister pads in every purse I own. (And WHY, in the year 2022, has there been no innovation in the world of foot bandaging?!?! They NEVER STAY ON! I have unintentionally littered so many bandaids all over this planet over the course of my life. Gross.
StephLove said…
I'm glad you found the footwear that works for you. North wants a pair of Doc Martens, or they did last year, but I think they gave up on saving the money. I wonder if they still want them.
Nicole said…
Hi Allison! Blissdom was so fun. I just recently came across my neon headband that I wore to that 80s party. I considered keeping it but no, there's no chance I'm wearing it again.

My grade nine grad dress was white, mid-calf, and had big sleeves. So. It was not at all attractive. My grade twelve grad dress was red, also weirdly mid-calf, and off the shoulder. I had dyed-to-match shoes and purse. Girls these days have so much cuter styles but hey, it was the 80s and 90s, what did we expect?
Swistle said…
Favorite part: "I found Doc Martens, which made me feel young again, WITH ZIPPERS, because I knew I was not."

In college I wore construction boots (construction-colored and construction-shaped; they did not have an actual steel toe) and loved them so much. I REALLY wanted Doc Martens, but at least at the time they didn't fit my feet at all, and it was so disappointing, because they fit my HEART.

I tend to find One Thing that I like (one particular t-shirt, one particular pair of jeans, one particular kind of shoe/sock/underwear/etc.), and then I just want to re-buy it in every color forever. But instead it becomes unavailable, and then I have to look again, and it's exhausting.
Busy Bee Suz said…
I love that (and how) you shared this with us. I genuinely believe that we all have particular insecurities as young women, and they can follow us into adulthood.
You made me giggle several times in this post, but you also touched my heart.
I think it took me until my 50s (which was what, five years ago?) to really grasp what made me feel comfortable in clothing and attitude. It's a shame it takes some of us so long to 'get it'.
Tudor said…
I had pull-on boots that were too hard to pull on, so I got my shoemaker to put zippers on the inside of them. It sounds like you're OK with your not-zip Docs, but if it ever gets to you, a shoemaker could probably help.

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