Ugly Shoes

We did not have a lot of money when I was a little girl so we did not often shop at the best stores. We had plenty to get by on, but only because we were careful. One of the stores where we often shopped was Robert Halls over on West Boulevard. It was sort of like a K-Mart, I think, or Zayers. “Z. A. Y. E. R. Zayer,” said the flashing lights over the store. Robert Halls did not have a flashing sign high over the entrance like Zayers did, at least not that I ever saw. It wasn’t on a side of town we often went to after dark.

I remember the smell of the store, one of those indescribable yet distinctive odors that if I smelled it today I could immediately be transported back in time to being the little girl standing in that store. It smelled a bit like plastic and the dye from new blue jeans and just a bit of floor wax. It was a discount store and all discount stores have the same scent note in them.

On one visit there, I found a pair of beautiful blue tennis shoes. Now, I was very sensitive to the fact that we didn’t have a lot of extra money to spend and I rarely asked for special clothes. A lot of times I was picked on for not wearing Wrangler Jeans or for not having Nike shoes or some other popular brand of clothing. Most of the time I thought that was pretty stupid and, among the many things that motivated my “friends” to tease me, it seemed to be fairly minor. But oh how I loved those blue tennis shoes and I didn’t even care if they were expensive or not! They were a vibrant royal blue and had sort of a suede texture to them. Yes, they were in a sense, blue suede shoes. Blue is still one of my favorite colors and they were just about the most perfect shade of blue I’d ever seen.

They were not any particular brand and were probably not very expensive. I think I assumed they were expensive because they were something I really wanted. Regardless of the cost, my parents bought them for me and I was ecstatic! I put them on in the car on the way home and even though my mother said I’d get blisters on my feet I didn’t care a bit. I loved my blue suede tennis shoes and I was so very happy that day.

Yes, that day I was very happy.

However, the next day when I went to school I discovered that my blue suede tennis shoes were not, in fact, beautiful at all. My blue suede tennis shoes were actually shameful. No one understood their awesomeness. No one thought they were beautiful or even remotely cool. In fact, the blue suede tennis shoes seemed to somehow offend everyone in my class because everyone felt compelled to point at them, laugh at them, turn up their nose at them, crinkle up their face at them or even say, “ewww how ugly!” I was heartbroken. Clearly, I must have been mistaken. Clearly these shoes were not beautiful after all. Clearly these shoes were not cool or awesome because they didn’t think they were. I could not be right if everyone else disagreed.

They began to feel like blue lead on my feet that day and by the time I’d gotten home, they were so painful to me that I had to take them off and throw them in the back of the closet. I hated those blue suede tennis shoes. They were ugly. They were betrayers. They had pretended to be awesome, pretended to be beautiful and then, in the full light of the eyes of others they had revealed their true nature of uncool, unpopular and ugly. In turn, they had revealed to everyone else, yet again, my unwantedness, my ugliness. I felt crushed and betrayed by my once beloved blue suede tennis shoes.

The look of confusion and disappointment in my parents’ eyes was equally painful. They did not understand how uncool these ugly shoes were. They had spent good money on shoes I had clearly wanted not two days before. They had seen the delight in my eyes when I put them on in the car and they could not see the ugliness that had finally been revealed in them. They could not see the unloveableness that shone off their sueded surface and reflected in the eyes of everyone else; their too white laces, their wrong symbols on the sides, their obvious cheapness. They could not understand that if I had to wear them again I was never going to be able to lift my hideous feet because they had been encased in the blue ugliness. Ugly blue lead. They only made me look even uglier.

Their disappointment broke my heart, but I was a coward. I could not love them if everyone else hated them. I could not be right if everyone else disagreed with me. I could never bring myself to put them on again and I made up a lie to tell my parents that they hurt my feet too much to wear. The blue shoes sat at the back of my closet for many years. Secretly, I loved them the way that you secretly love a boyfriend you’d once adored but had caused you great pain. On the surface, you hate them because they hurt, betrayed, disappointed you and because you’re supposed to hate them but deep inside, you still love them. You wanted them to be something they couldn’t be for your sake. I wanted those shoes to be beautiful to everyone else because they were beautiful to me. Were beautiful. But I was a coward. They were not only ugly because they were unpopular, they were ugly because they reflected my cowardice and made me feel even uglier.

I look back at little-girl-me and I want to shake her, scream at her, hug her and tell her that no, it was all of the others who were wrong. If I believed those shoes were beautiful then they were beautiful. I want to tell her that everyone didn’t have to agree with me for me to still be right and that sometimes right wasn’t what it was all cracked up to be anyway. I want to tell her that the joy my parents had at giving me something I loved was worth more than the approval of a bunch of so-called cool kids. I want to tell her that one day I will decorate my entire kitchen blue and I will wear blue all the time just so I never forget that I can do anything I want no matter what everyone else says. I also want to tell her that those so-called cool kids were wrong about a few other things as well: it wasn’t just the shoes that were beautiful, I was really beautiful, too.

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Blue Balloon

When I was a little girl, I remember getting a great big blue balloon from some church activity. I loved that balloon! It was so beautiful and vivid and obediently following me on its leash of bright red curling ribbon. It was almost like a magical thing; a magical creature that gently bobbed up at the end of the ribbon’s length, tugging slightly as if to say “look up look up!” My mother tied it securely around my wrist, “so it won’t float away,” she said.

I remember the balloon in the car on the way home just grazing the ceiling. I’d pull down on the red curling ribbon till the balloon itself was in my hands, put my ear to it and listen to the ticklish vibration of my parents’ voices inside it. I wondered if that was what blue sounded like. Then I would let it go and watch it go back up to the car ceiling again.

For some reason, the red curling ribbon seemed to be cutting into my skin. I’d twisted and turned my wrist in the loop and stretched it out just enough to get my hand through. I wrapped three fingers inside the loop and held my hand down at my side so my mother wouldn’t see I’d wrested it free from the secure place she’d tied it.

Hold on tight. Hold on tight! Don’t want it to float away!

Hold on tight. We arrived home and…hold on tight…getting out of the car…don’t let go…I stumbled just a bit and my hand came open to catch myself and I forgot to hold on tight. I felt it slip away from my fingers and thought…no! Hold on tight! But it was too late.

The space between my fingers and the bright red curling ribbon began to expand as the beautiful blue balloon soared up into the sky. Free at last free at last! It danced upward, upward, upward on the breeze. It was the first time I had the very real feeling of wanting to turn back time just a moment. It almost seems like you could. Just back up the least little bit. If you could will it hard enough, time could just back up a brief few seconds. Then I could hold on tight and then my balloon would not be floating away leaving me alone, magicless and powerless, standing in the driveway.

But no matter how hard I willed it, I could not back up time. I could not undo my not holding on tight. I could only watch as the balloon grew smaller and smaller and the sky between me and it grew greater and greater.

And then it was gone.

That’s the first loss I remember. There is a touch of that feeling of loss every time a cherished thing or person, memory or hoped for future is lost. Sometimes, I am the blue balloon drifting away, untethered and feeling abandoned. Sometimes, I am the red curling ribbon, wanting so badly to fulfill my purpose but powerlessly twisting in the current of time. Sometimes, I am the little girl who tried so hard to hold on tight, who didn’t tell her mother that she’d taken the balloon off her wrist, who listened to the well intended words of the grownup who said, ‘just imagine where that balloon is going now!’

The truth is it doesn’t really matter where it is going because it is going without me and my heart is broken as it leaves me standing here on the ground, hand out, willing time to roll backward with all my might and wishing so badly that I had remembered to hold on tight.

Ceramic Vase

The latest completed ceramic thing from the paint it yourself pottery place. Can’t actually use it as a vase or anything like that since it has a hole in the bottom. It was part of the “vintage” collection at the shop.

It didn’t come out exactly as I’d planned but it’s ok.vase 1Vase 2Vase 3

I’m using it for wooden spoon storage in the kitchen.

Last night I started a cookie jar.  It was originally supposed to be for my mother, but I gave her a piece of pottery made by a real artist instead. So, this ended up being mine as well.

Working on Christmas gifts this week, too. Tote bags, purses and canned fruit. More to come!

Blue Box

blue box

New Prayer Box–this one is all blue and silvery.  I seem to have spent most of the time lately in the goldish, bronzish, coppery area and thought I’d take a break and move into the cooler silvers and pewters for a change.

Box is made of paper and painted with blue acrylic on the outside and silver on the inside. The writing inside says ‘O Lord, fill my mouth and write upon my heart that which you would have me say.”  There’s a decoupage image of the Holy Spirit stained glass window in there, too.

silver inside

 The feet of the box are really cool looking silver beads.

silver feet

The underside has an archival sticker of a black flower–daisy like shape–with dots! 🙂

underside

The lid is really an integral part. The outside is painted with blackboard paint and then trimmed in shiny blue nail polish. The inside of the lid is archival paper that has a really neat felt texture to it. It’s been lightly distressed and silvered.

chalkboard lidinside lid

And HERE’s why the lid is integral…..the star shaped chalk. The lid is designed to be used as a mini blackboard for words or phrases or whatever the recipient wants.

stars

And the tissue paper that wraps around the chalk and goes in the box is the same type of black and white daisy like flower.

stars

This box is a gift for a specific person and not a found art piece, so I can’t post this till they’ve received it! Mailing it today (June 18)

Summertime and Spiders

This morning I realized that the colony of daddy long leg spiders who make their home outside my front door was in full force. They scampered out of my way as I opened the screen door and a couple of them took lanky long strides down the steps with me, like strange sentries or bodyguards guiding me to my car. I could almost imagine them giving me the report from the activities of the previous night.  ‘All clear, ma’am! Just the neighbor’s black and white cat trying to catch that rabbit again! We’ll keep it all secure while you’re away! Good day!’ In my mind I can see them attacking anyone who would try to break into the house. Who else has guard-spiders? Security of the future! Or of the past, perhaps. I am so lucky! I’ll try to take some pictures, if they’ll let me.

They are beautiful and bizarre creatures and, in reality, they seem to be some kind of odd herald of summer. It is hot and unseasonably so for this area and summer has charged in, eager to start the party!

Last Saturday, much to my joy, I was finally able to go to the Farmer’s market. The veggies are ok, not fantastic yet, but lots of other really neat things to see. Bought this lovely pottery bowl there for an unbelievable price of $3.blue bowl

 Also met a woman who has llamas and sheep and sells yarn made from them. This is delightful! I want very much to buy some and make something with local yarn, so I shall take enough funds to purchase some this Saturday. The woman and I also chatted about knitting lace and she was looking for a pattern, so I am going to share one of my shawl patterns with her. Maybe I’ll get lucky and she’ll give me a discount! But, even so, I’ll buy a couple of skeins anyway 🙂