We went into a department store and I was browsing the shoe section while Tim was off looking at ties. I've vowed to not buy any clothes until my hips drift back together so shoes are the only thing that bring me any kind of satisfaction. I did my duty of oohing and aahing at the sparkly adult shoes befit for a toddlers attention. There is a direct correlation in that the less likely I am to ever wear them, the more Ada likes them. Then, I spotted them: glorious, rich chocolate brown, shiny leather riding-style Frye boots. I've coveted boots like these for years. Years. I picked up the left display boot and petted it. I casually spun the boot upside down, pretending to inspect the heel, but really I was glancing at the price. I might have sniffed the leather on it's way back down to the display table.
I thought about that pair of boots for the next 12 days. Tims first week of call as an attending finally wore me down (what a long, lonely week). He got home late, late one night and in a moment of being totally worn down I mentioned to him that I liked those boots and might go back to try them on. He asked how much they cost and after I told him he wrinkled his brow, threw back a shoulder and said "Buy them!" with a characteristic mix of enthusiasm and dismissal. I needed his confirmation that it's safe now: I can buy a pair of boots without our meticulously controlled finances caving in around our ears. The next day I loaded the kids into the car and responsibly folded up my to-do list before I irresponsibly tucked it out of sight. Then I drove with purpose to the Lord and Taylor. I was giddy with excitement and palms sweating with nervousness as I piled the kids out of the car and made my way to the double doors at the front of the store.
Growing up we were not wealthy. My mom was a single mom with a high school education. We lived paycheck-to-paycheck and money was tight. My mom was really smart about money and disciplined at saving. There were always plenty of presents under the tree, she bought a house in a good school district and we always had what we needed. Even if that meant buying my shoes at KMart, not that there's anything wrong with that, but it's tough to be cool under the circumstance. As a teenager I recognized that our financial situation was what it was and I stopped asking to buy anything from the front of store at the Limited and instead headed straight to the clearance racks. I asked for money for Christmas because I could get so much more at the after-Christmas sales. Later, I embraced reality and wove it into my identity: I became "most outrageously dressed" at my high school. My senior yearbook from 1990 says so. Back then you didn't need to do much other than wear a lot of black. I still wear a lot of black. I even wrote a "how-to" article for my high school newspaper about thrift shopping.
It's still my first inclination to say "we can't afford it" when it comes time to spend money on anything, even if we can easily afford it. Years of graduate school took a childhood habit and ingrained it deeply. I'm not a cheapskate though. I love to give generous gifts and believe in the value of certain things like organic food, good coffee and good wine. Still, even if we had really super nice stuff now it would be wasted on me - I wouldn't enjoy it because I'd constantly be thinking about how expensive it was and then worrying about ruining it. So when I walked into the department store ready to lay down some cash for these boots it was a big, big moment.
Then I saw a message from heaven. The red-lettered sign read:
20% off one
25% off two
30% off three
Oh. My. Goodness.
Surely this was a sign from heaven! And it was telling me that I should not only buy the coveted Frye boots but also the coveted red Hunter wellies that I'm told I will live in come winter in New York. Oh yes, divinity was a part of this for certain. Two pairs of boots and one pair of fleece wellies socks all for less than the original price of the Frye boots.
I walked out of the store with my giant bags rhythmically banging the sides of the stroller. I was satisfied and proud. How lucky that there happened to be this sale on this day? I got a great deal. I spent more money than I ever, ever have on shoes ever before but I still got a great deal. So the frugal girl in me is stoked while the grown up woman in me is so happy in her boots. I've worn those boots nearly every day since I bought them. I love those boots. They fit like a glove and the leather is giving in all the right places. My friend texted a picture of her wearing a brand new pair of beautiful, flashy Manolos and I texted back a picture of me in my new boots.
They were a belated birthday present to myself. They were my reward for doing a great job getting us moved. They were an offering to offset the terrible call week (I thought this was supposed to get better after training was officially over?) They were on sale, which is great, but I would have bought them anyway.
We have, in a very weird way, arrived.