My sister and I, when we were growing up together as readers, loved the "Shoes" books of British author Noel Streatfeild: Ballet Shoes, Theater Shoes, Dancing Shoes, Movie Shoes, Circus Shoes - books about children pursuing their passions in the performing arts. We would talk about what our career "shoes" were going to be. I was going to have writing shoes, of course, and my sister for a while was going to have astronomy shoes.
Well, I did grow up to be a writer, and so do have "writing shoes" in Streatfeild's sense. But I didn't realize how much my writing would end up bringing shoes into my life in a more literal sense.
Every year I attend the huge and splendiferous children's literature festival sponsored by the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg, where thirty or forty authors come into town to spend two intense days giving presentations to thousands of schoolchildren bused in from all over the state. As part of the festival, the authors have an outing to a local old-timey shoe store and come away staggering under our boxes and bags of new shoes. I'm wearing a pair of Warrensburg shoes right now, my favorite shoes ever.
But alas, two months ago, the strap on one of my shoes broke. There are no shoe repair shops anywhere near Greencastle, Indiana, so I glued the strap back on with super glue and hoped that it would hold. Alas, this morning, as I was having my scones and fairy dust at Alice's Teacup in NYC, the strap gave way. These are the only shoes I have with me. And I had planned on doing a fair amount of walking over the next few days before I fly back home to Indiana. What to do?
Luckily, I was with New Yorkers. "Oh, there's a shoe repair shop right on Columbus Avenue two blocks away," Patty told me. "But they aren't going to be willing to repair my shoe right on the spot," I protested. "Of course, they are!" she shot back.
And sure enough, Patty was right. I stood in the teensy-weensy shoe repair shop, one shoe on and one shoe off, while the kindly man repaired it NOT with super glue, but by actually sewing the strap back on nice and tight. It was all done in "a New York minute" - well, ten New York minutes.
So now the shoes I bought at a children's literature festival have been repaired on my way to a poetry-writing retreat. Writing shoes, indeed!