I was wearing black Billy Martin cowboy boots, a sweater and leggings when I met my husband on a blind date. He wore a towel. I was trying to project nonchalant chic. He was running late, but I’m pretty sure he was just boasting his biceps. Boots and leggings are pretty much still my uniform, but I’ve since trained my husband to wear pants when answering the door.
Thirty-two years have passed, but when the leaves and the temperatures drop and boot season begins, I am reminded of that fall when we fell in love. Maybe that’s why I still love wearing boots. Boots are comfort food for my soles. My feet have taken me through almost sixty years, twenty-five countries, fifteen years of work pumps, hundreds of runs in stiff ski boots, thousands of uneven subway steps, hours of parties in crippling stilettos. I’ve worn shoes that would make Chinese foot binding feel like Ugg slippers. My big toes have endured two painful surgeries as a result. My feet have earned the right to be comfortable.
In NYC shoes are transportation. My favorite wheels are my worn-in, black, knee-high Aquatalia boots that have mercifully morphed to the topography of my aching feet. They are low-heeled, waterproof, and rubber soled. They are an SUV for my feet – sturdy, reliable and designed for all types of terrain. I zip them up like I am buckling my seatbelt and I’m ready to hit the road. I’m a superhero. I feel like Wonder Woman — without the bustier and the gorgeous hair. NYC is my territory. In boots I can cover a lot of ground – taking in street after street of Chelsea galleries without getting a blister. I feel powerful hopping on a Citibike and pedaling to Soho with my trusty treads and my foldable helmet. I have no fears heading to the Union Square farmer’s market with the confidence that I can stride back home lugging bags of apples, greens and a bouquet of zinnias. The Lake Erie size slush puddles are no match for these boots as I conquer the icy mountains and melting pools that form on street corners after a winter storm. I’m impermeable.
Each fall I head to Saks and Bergdorfs to hunt through the shelves of stunning shoes and boots. But those shoe departments might as well be a shoe museum. The pointy, high heeled styles are like a European sports car – sleek and sexy, overpriced, impractical and hard to get into. At least a sports car is built for speed. These are most definitely not.
I feel fast and safe and strong in my favorite boots. But it’s time for a change – so I’ve bought them in gray. For too many years I chose style over comfort. In my boots and leggings I have the best of both worlds. I can truly be comfortable in my own shoes.