‘Round laces –’ I sighed to myself, ‘try them anyway.’ I pulled on those leather boots, I say leather but they weren’t, I searched the entire boot but the only label said ‘Made in China’ and ‘Fabriqué en Chine’ and several other languages but it was clear that it was completely unclearwhat they were made of – just not leather. It was long gone lunch time and I was hungry and just a little tired. Hungry and tired made me irritated that getting new boots for a new job was just so frustrating.
Leant over on a low stool in a middle of a department store amongst shelves of black mass manufactured blobs made to look like a shoe but failing on most of the specification. I glanced up as I struggled to push my foot in as another shopper squeezed past me all looking to over-spend on products with a race to the bottom on price with quality following just shy behind. This particular pair I struggled with because those laces had been annoyingly laced in that, black and forth with one end while the other just lazily strung from the bottom eye to the top one diagonally; I think these are the same people who put the loo roll on with the end directed to the wall.
I spotted a zipper on the side, ‘thank god, now it makes sense, a zipper would make it a lot easier and it makes them a little more stylish’ I thought. I tried to pull the zipper down the side of the boot but it felt jammed. ‘Damn it. I just can’t get a break with these boots, the zip is already jammed and I’ve not even taken them to the counter.’ I looked inside on the back of the zip to look why the zipper was jammed and it was fairly obvious, the top of the zipper was surrounded by a box of stitching – a fake zipper. But hold on, if you’re going to go to the trouble, as a manufacturer, of fitting a zip, why actually stitch it up and stop it working? I mean no money saved. By fake I mean it was non functional but the zip itself was real. It was there.
I needed these boots badly though and persevered. It would be hard enough to find ladies boots, being a size just one above most ranges, but these were mens boots; the cutest I could find at least in a generic gender way. Pulled the laces out and eventually slid my foot in. These did it just the same as the several boots from several other shops had done and just dug into the back of my heel again. Annoyed I slotted the boots on the self with a clunk in defeat and moved to another shop.
If they had red stitching that made them look different, they were too narrow. If they looked from the outset they would be just right, they didn’t have my size. I wasn’t winning. I decided on one last shop, which wasn’t much of a choice because I had exhausted every shoe shop and department store in the city and my head was spinning not from lack of choice but a void of food.
I trailed along the shelf looking at the styles that seemed to be much like the other shops but with just a little changed to allow them to sell pretty much the same thing but at their own price off a dice roll. I found a pair of boots. They were cute. I could get on with these. The front weren’t too long and the shape and colours… I slipped it on – and there is was, the back again pushing into my heel. I think I literally shoved the mystery material in the shape of a boot onto the shelve determined to head straight to the car and telling myself ‘there are other days between now and Monday to find boots.’ The reality was that I was unlikely to go to the shops again for a fruitless search for my feet. May be everyone else just had different shaped feet to me. It was pointless to buy boots that would be more uncomfortable than the mildly uncomfortable boots I already have.
I suppose the thing with starting a new job is that I was in two minds on what I would wear. ‘Start as you mean to go on’ is what some say and I think starting wearing something that’s a little more for the feminine side is a whole lot easier than wearing some standard shirt, trousers and plain old masculine shoes office expectation and at a later date start wearing something that makes people question what’s going on.
At home, finishing off some long overdue lunch and with the kettle on along with my cute boots I already had, walking around the kitchen I realised that I should just use what I have for now. The boots I already had were that start as a meant to go onas were the work trousers I bought. It didn’t matter what the end goal was once I had worked there for a few months, all that mattered was being happy and work was just a small slice of a nice chocolate cake.
It had only been a day ago that I was in a place that was devoid of silly stressed about how my feet would be protected from the elements and how my feet would look to others. Stressed about fit, price and being part of the retail therapy jungle.
The hill was hard going. The road had been hard going but riding up this hill was even harder. The further I went the steeper it seemed to get. A cold day but the few miles to get there in my sweater had made me hot. The grass was short and hardy set high up, dotted with sheep poo and kept by the sheep themselves nibbling all day. For every few feet I climbed on my bike the view became more and more spectacular and my legs deciding enough for now. I walked the last stretch of the high mound that stood at the top of the mountain pushing my bike by the handle bars with the bell tinging over the odd small bump in the ground. As I reached the top the wind from the north blew a chill over my exposed legs below my three quarter length trousers. It bit hard.
The sky felt closer with wispy clouds blending grey into the cold autumn blue to the horizon connecting to the sea in the distance. I felt like if I raised my arms as high as I could I would be able to drag my fingers through the clouds and leave trails for people to see miles around. Every direction had a view that dug deep into the soul and created temporary amnesia for any problems I had. Green hills to the north dipping into each other with little villages dotted in the gaps and to the west a forest with a carpet of leaves still hanging on in yellows, browns and deep autumn reds.
I had planned to stay there until sunset and watch the world change through light alone but the breeze had taken at least ten degrees off the temperature. It was unforgiving like much of the world but what was important is that once again, at that moment I felt like I was in another place both physically and culturally and yet just a few miles from home silly little problems like whether a pair of boots would raise questions in a new job or the type of trousers I would wear, it was just work, just clothes, the important bit is just being me and I had already proved to myself when it comes to running on the weekend with other runners that people like people for who they are mostly; work should be the same.
When I think about the difference of deciding what I want to wear to being on the top of a mountain surrounded by natural beauty then it’s just a case of reordering priorities. What is important. What makes me comfortable and when to push myself a little out of my comfort zone whether it’s deciding to wearing something new or climbing upwards on a mountain bike.
Until next time.