One of These Days These Boots Are Going to Walk Away From You...
Boot up for an instant confidence builder. Â (Photo by Francesca Ayala)
I've always associated boots with confidence and empowerment. No matter what the style, you can't rock a pair without making a statement. And, no matter what kind of girl you are, you can't put on a pair of boots if you don't have the balls to match.
At the age of thirteen, I begged my mother to buy me a pair of black suede zip-up boots with chunky heels that came up to my knees. I was awkward and angry as hell, with lots to say and no one who'd listen. I was desperate to metamorphose into a braver, cooler version of myself. I tried to convince my mom that those boots were the ones that would embolden me to stomp on conformity and kick the big, bad world right in the shins if it didn't accept me.Â
I think she was amused by my conviction because she eventually bought them for me. That was the pair that began my love affair with boots, the footwear that makes being a badass look so damn good.
I felt so invincible every time I put those shoes on. It was almost as if all my insecurities would vanish at the simple pull of a zipper. Since then, I added to my boot collection until I had more shoes in my closet than actual clothes (not even kidding). No matter what life threw at me, I took comfort knowing that I could return to feeling indomitable by putting on a pair of boots. That was, of course, until someone broke my heart while I was wearing my favorite pair.
The last person I dated has had several mentions in this column, perhaps because he was a part of my life for as long as I have lived in Los Angeles. We were inseparable, practically living out of each other's apartments. All my mail forwarded to his apartment, including a pair of knee-high, black suede Chinese Laundry boots that my godfather sent me for my 25th birthday.Â
I wasn't quite looking forward to becoming a year older. It had nothing to do with aging, though. It was because of an incident that occurred on my birthday the year before. Â One involving my ex, my cousin and a bathroom five feet away from me. People aren't kidding when they say love is blind, because for all the ridiculous excuses he gave me, I took him back. Not of course, after developing a severe case of paranoia.Â
Needless to say, I hadn't been looking forward to another birthday. The boots, however, did cheer me up. Those and the karaoke birthday party I had with my grad school friends in Koreatown. Neither my ex nor my cousin was invited.
I loved those boots so much I wore them like a uniform. They were almost like a consolation prize for a bad decision on my part. You cannot recover from betrayal if you allow the person who hurt you to remain in your life as if there weren't any consequences to their actions. I reached this realization one afternoon in the spring, when I met my ex for lunch.Â
I was wearing the boots with a dark gray pinstriped button-down dress. I hoped that the professional attire would camouflage the fact that I had been up since four in the morning doing work. It was a Wednesday, the absolute worst day of the week for me because my classes required me to remain on campus for thirteen hours, from 8 a.m. till 8:40 p.m. My ex was also studying at USC at that time and we would meet for lunch on the days we were both on campus.Â
"You look so old," he said when he saw me.
I ignored the statement and we walked towards the Galen Center cafeteria, behind Heritage Hall. I got us a table while he grabbed us some food.Â
The silence that lingered between us seemed more pronounced than all the cafeteria noise of chatting patrons and clanging silverware. After what seemed like ages, he spoke.
"I don't think I can do this anymore," he said.
I couldn't believe him. It felt as if I was watching him say the words to someone else.Â
"It just feels like there's no love between us anymore."
I wanted him to shut up. I wanted to take his stupid tuna melt sandwich and throw it at his face. I wanted to scream at him, tell him he had some nerve to do this after everything he had put me through. Instead, I said nothing. I just let him talk, making excuses and rationalizing why it was no longer beneficial for either of us to stay together. When he was through, I stood up, gathered my things and started to walk away.
"Please don't cry," he said, and reached for my hand. "You're my best friend. Just talk to me."
"You can't make me cry anymore," I said. "And I have nothing to say to you."
I shoved his hand away and began to stomp off. This was not the first time I tried to walk away from him. I didn't know it at the time either, but it wouldn't be the last either. At that moment, however, I was determined to walk away as if he hadn't just broken my heart. I kept my head up as I weaved through the jam-packed cafeteria and told myself that, at all costs, I wasn't going to look back. This time, I told myself, I am really leaving him.Â
I walked out of the building, away from him and away from all the noise until the only things I could hear were my boots clicking against the cement. The sound my heels were making was loud enough to drown out my sobs.
As I have learned, a pair of shoes cannot make you invulnerable. But, they're always there for you when you need to walk away.