Lately, wherever I go, people are complimenting my sneakers.
It’s hilarious because they’re just regular Nikes that are rather worn and I’ve been wearing them for at least six months, maybe longer, and until the past three or four weeks, no one ever looked down at my feet.
In fact, I was ready to toss them and get the next pair. You know how it is, when you exercise a lot (yeah, right) and you wear down your shoes, you’re supposed to change them up every few months.
But now I’m getting all this sneaker-love and I’m reluctant to let them go.
There’s nothing that special about these shoes. They happen to be bright pink and purple, and people have even asked if I customized them at Nike to have the right brightness of colors. Um, no, I just bought them at Dunham’s and probably they were on sale.
It’s a funny thing, complimenting your running shoes. On the one hand, how lovely that people find something nice to say about what you’re wearing. It’s always good to show a little love.
On the other hand, it’s a bit out of context from what we really should be doing. I mean, look me in the eye and speak to my heart. Ok, I guess that’s expecting a lot. I know I focus on the surface details, too. But maybe, just maybe, we’ve got it all wrong.
The other day, driving home from the library with my lovely eldest son Asher, we started talking about what boys know about girls and vice versa. He’d had a friend over for dinner and there were a lot of girls at the table (hence the early-in-the-day plea, can I please invite a friend of my own over for tonight?).
His friend said something about “women,” to which Asher replied, “We know nothing about women and they know everything about us.”
Now, as a mom my heart melted at my little boy’s assertion. Yes, women can be a mystery but to start off on that path, wow! So I had to send a little love his way.
“Girls don’t know anything about boys,” I told him. “And here’s a secret that you need to know: girls are insecure about how they look and whether or not a boy will like them. You don’t want to take advantage of that insecurity, but you need to know that when she pulls your hair, she’s really saying she likes you and she’s not sure if you like her.”
(A girl really did pull his hair recently. Twice. I assured him it was a sign of affection. A stupid one, yes, but a sign nonetheless.)
Then I told him about the movie, The American President, with Michael Douglas and Annette Bening. The 11-year-old daughter advises her president-father to compliment his date on her shoes. He’s stunned. The daughter is firm. The shoes. Notice the shoes.
Of course, as they are about to walk into a state dinner at the White House, he compliments her shoes and her eyes light up and surprise registers on her face. Nice move, dad. Be unexpected.
So maybe there is something to be said for looking down and noticing the details.
This morning, I walked under the pink sky and reveled in the quiet dawn. My neighborhood was still asleep because it is the first day of the fall harvest holiday of Sukkot and most of my Orthodox neighbors hadn’t emerged yet into their makeshift huts to sip their coffee and get ready for synagogue.
I walked to feel my heart beat and to breathe in the freshness of a new day. A few African-American neighbors passed me on the street with stunning greetings of “Good morning!”
I wore the shoes, of course. My feet swam around in them, they’re so worn in. It’s time to pass them on to the sneaker gods in the sky and start with a new pair that offers support and traction so I can pick up speed.
It’s hard to let go of something that makes people notice you, isn’t it? I’ll just have to trust that there’s something more remarkable about me than my sneakers.