I’ve always loved shoes. Before my injury, my companions were a pair of knock-off combat boots that I wore with cutoff jean shorts, black minis and dresses. My mom hated them! I was wearing them when I got injured, but between the rollover, ambulance and someone cutting off the shirt I was wearing, the boots were lost forever. I still think of them often.
As a new wheelchair user, I experimented with soft and oversized shoes. They were easy to put on and reduced the possibility of pressure wounds, but every time I was in a trendy shoe store I felt robbed of the opportunity to wear cool and sexy footwear. I began to spice it up. A camel-colored wedge made me feel beautiful, even though I had to MacGyver straps underneath my skirt to keep my knees in place.
When a fancy event calls for fancy footwear, I buy a fierce pair of shoes for a one-night adventure and save the receipt. They make me feel like the most exquisite woman. The next day we part ways. No hurt feelings, just the memory of a great night.
Some shoes have been with me for years. I treat them like royalty — riding in my chariot, never touching the ground, privileged to experience my life’s adventures, forever young. Others have moved on to a new partner who happily accepts them. I know we aren’t right for each other, but part of me wants to hold on.
My relationship with shoes is complicated. Together, we have gone through trauma, healing, exploration and adventure. Although they’re no longer meant for walking, shoes help me still feel like me — in sickness and in health — and that is love.