My favorite pair of all the adorable stilettos Mom stashed away behind the boxes in the lowest compartment of her wardrobe was the beige-brown snakeskin shoes. I remember turning the key in the lock and opening the creme-lacquared door as quietly as possible whenever my mother had a friend over for coffee. This peep-toe pair had probably been one of her most cherished treasures as she kept the shoes in a black drawstring bag made of velvet—none of the other pairs had posh casings. My tiny feet would slip into the gorgeousness, and I’d walk up and down the parquet floor enchanted by my own image looking at me from the mirror. My feet barely filled the shoes, and they bent midway dangerously where my heels pressed on the expensive mustard leather. I would stride and saunter and transform into a famous star until my mother ambushed me. Often, I’d be so buried in my fantasies that I wouldn’t even hear her come in. Her voice would make me jump out of my skin: “Take them off. Right now! The heels will break!”
My mom’s feet, a love story.
Bone-tired at seventy-nine.
Still kissing the earth.
The Little Guy is eight-months-old now. Just when I’ve started thinking, “all right, my son is an adult now, and he’s moved out, and I’m an empty-nester, which I actually enjoy quite a bit,” The Little Guy entered my life.
The Little Guy is my only grandchild whose arrival wasn’t planned but who was welcomed with open arms and open hearts on both sides of his family. He’s brought me more joy than I could ever imagine. Now, I watch and take care of him at least three days a week when his mama and papa go to work.
Something my husband and I started enjoying recently is shopping for baby clothes, and that surprises us more than I can explain. Whenever we spot a babywear store in the distance, we need to go in and see if we can find something cute for The Little Guy.
The other day we spent almost half an hour adoring baby shoes. Especially the summer sandals were beyond cute. We were finally able to choose one. The next day, when The Little Guy arrived, I put on his baby shoes, but it turned out hey were too big for him. I took them off and placed them in the box at the back of my closet where I keep my only remaining pair of stilettos. I’ve gotten rid of the rest of my heels gradually in the past years. I’ve been working from home since 2010 and don’t wear fancy shoes to work anymore when my office is just a room away. I enjoy the freedom of walking barefoot, or sometimes, I put on my sneakers if I want to feel “more businesslike” during a call with a client.
When The Little Guy is a little older, I’ll take out the baby shoes and have him try them on again. Perhaps then, they can happily leave the shoe box forever. My only remaining pair of heels will stay in the box. I doubt I’ll ever use them again. They belong to another time in my life that has long past. And yet, I can’t bring myself to give them away. They remind me of a pair of stilettos Mom used to love when I was very young. When she was also very young. When she could still walk. Almost four and a half decades before her stroke.
“What I tell you three times is true.”
— LEWIS CARROLL,
The Hunting of the Snark
YOUR WRITING PROMPT:
Write a triptych-style mini memoir. Triptych literally means “three-fold” or “three-piece.” The triptych form in art arises from early Christian art, and was a popular standard format for altar paintings from the Middle Ages onwards. Its geographical range was from the eastern Byzantine churches to the Celtic churches in the West. Renaissance painters such as Hans Memling and Hieronymus Bosch used the form. And so did many sculptors.
Today, use the concept of a picture or relief-carving on three panels, hinged together side by side to show and tell three different aspects of a story loaded with symbolism. Think of your story in the form of three hinged pieces. Choose an object, an artifact, a person, a place, an emotion, a relationship, an idea, a color, an animal, an element of nature, or a metaphor as your hinge. It is the hinge that will reoccur in all three pieces of your story. The pieces don’t have to be directly related or chronological but the hinge must create an interaction, a connection and an explicit relationship between the three representations, deepening and enriching them. Also, feel free to write each of the three pieces using a different style or voice.
Set your timer for 10 minutes and go! Keep your pen moving (or your fingers typing) no matter where this prompt takes you in your timed free-writing today.
Image: “Three Studies for a Portrait of George Dyer” by Francis Bacon