What is a time of joy for many women was my darkest hour.
If Nora Ephron's old lady neck is harbinger of old lady issues -- menopause, Alzheimer’s, vaginal desertion -- then my feet are the terrible reminders that I didn't do enough old lady stuff in my wasted youth, specifically take care of my friggin' feet. I regularly wear make-up on my toes, people.
“Has he seen your feet yet?” Is the litmus test by which my BFF measure my boyfriends. Counting for much more than knowing me (in the biblical sense), bearing witness to my bunions is a rite of passage in a relationship. Then again some friends use it as a warning. Has he seen your feet? Not yet. Good, hide them shits. I guess I supposed to marry the guy before I take my socks off. What do you think?
Through pluck and circumstance, these bad boys have become my thing. Lack of a driver's license and a general affinity toward wandering have worn down my once pristine skin along with the soles of my cheap shoes.
I tell everyone I got them because I was a “dancah” at an early age. That the pirouettes and plies of my youth had taken their toll some 20 years later. This, of course, is not true. My feet look like they’ve been crushing coal into diamonds because I don't own tennis shoes and hate public transportation. I walk everywhere and by everywhere I mean everywhere. When someone suggests we hail a cab to go just 20 blocks, I call that someone a wuss.
Obviously I can blame all this on Frances, who in forcing me to “go outside and play" inadvertently created a lifelong pedestrian. On Catalina Island, where I grew up, being an only child with tons of friends but fewer equals meant a lot of alone time. Why skip all the way across the street to ask if Melissa and Marcy could come out and play when there was a unattended pomegranate tree just a 40-minute stride from here?
My skinny grade-school gams were like a wind-up toy possessed. I learned to get lost in a town the size of a liberal arts college and felt secure in knowing that was impossible seeing as how circumscribed in safety my childhood was. So most likely my adulthood obession with "incidental exercise" is more Peter Pan than it is Parisian. I relive my lost childhood with every step, every wasted hour that would have been 15 minutes on the metro.
But now that I'm 31-adjacent, the age when your whole foot goes into your 30s not just your big toe, I have become increasingly preoccupied with preservation, if not reversal. So the girl who's never been to the hospital is now constantly googling “cosmetic foot surgery.” The before and after pictures are grossly inspirational.
My friends and I call it “the Adaoha foot surgery,” after my sorority sister whose feet once looked exactly like mine do now. Back then I was so haughty about my hooves, which in 2002 looked used but not abused. When Adaoha smudged foundation over her toes I laughed. Now I do mine just like she taught me. She passed away three years ago in March. Among the other things that make me stop and see Adaoha, everytime I "put on my feet" (like most girls put on their faces) I think of her. Despite wanting these things fixed I can't erase one of our last physical connections.
So for now these puppies are staying put. They are the scars from the rip in reality that happened when I got the call that my good friend was gone for good. Crazy, huh? That a deformity would end up comforting me. That a silly thing like the lazy state of my feet would end up meaning so much to me.
Now when someone asks, "Has he seen your feet?" I yell, "Yes!" because I don't have time for anyone who hasn't. Sure, I could probably just get a pedicure, but trust me that would only scratch the surface.
My feet, someone's neck, those are the mini skeletons in our closets that spill out when we’ve decided to make room for someone else. Who doesn't have secret parts that they are simultaneously ashamed and proud of?