Bet your boots

I was born in Manhattan but didn’t live there until 1992, which was decades past my debut at the now defunct Manhattan Infirmary. When I finally actually moved to NYC, I arrived at the age of 25 with my first month’s rent paid, two part time jobs, a broken heart and $200 to my name.

Those sure were simple times. 

As I settled into a new life, my focus was directed towards my income and expenses – and trying to keep those two things in balance. There were very few indulgences in my daily existence and I was hyper aware of every penny I spent. A treat was buying a pint of white rice for $1 at the neighborhood Chinese takeout restaurant and pairing it with some broccoli I purchased off a produce cart on 14th and 8th. That was two meals.

On a sunny Saturday, though, I temporarily lost my tight grip on the reins I had on my finances. It happened on W. 8th, between 5th and 6th Avenues. At that time, the block was awash in shoe stores. I don’t recall specific store names, but there were enough individual shops that spending a couple of hours browsing reliably provided inspiration, along with aspiration.

As I worked my way down the block on that long ago day, I wandered into a place on the north side of the street. I don’t know what compelled me to go inside. The windows weren’t particularly appealing and the interior seemed dark compared to the bright blue skies outdoors.

I eventually found my way into the rear of the store where I located the clearance section – and a pair of Frye cowboy boots.

They were black and kind of simple. These weren’t Nashville flashy. The heel was a reasonable 2” and the size was only slightly larger than my feet. Because of a scratch on the top of the right boot, they were priced to sell at only $60. 

Hmmm. What’s a Frye fan supposed to do in a situation like that?

I imagined myself wearing them with thick socks and a short skirt. Or, perhaps, jeans and a flannel shirt…

I bought them.

Nearly 30 years later, I’m wearing those boots. They’re the one accessory that has spanned the years of my life which have been the most fruitful. There’s no other item that I own that witnessed my time in NYC, graduate school, the years I spent with my former husband, countless trips, and growing into being a parent – complete with feet a full size larger than previous to my pregnancies.

Each time I pull these boots out of my closet, I am transported to that day so many years ago. I remember my hesitation that day about spending more than 25% of my savings on a pair of boots when I was uncertain how I was going to make October’s rent payment.

Did you notice I said “how,” not “if?”

When I look down at my feet clad in these classic black cowboy boots, I am reminded that indulging oneself at a time of uncertainty is a leap of faith and also a demonstration of self assurance. I’ve learned since that afternoon that the confidence I felt in my ability to meet my obligations was justified and well founded. And, while I never imagined still wearing these boots decades later, I’m certain I’ll still smile every single time I slide my feet into them.

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