The days shoes defined my life

And it’s all my mother’s fault…

The beginning of the story:
I ran away from home.

The end of the story:
I have a collection of shoes. 

Lined up and on show on my top floor, my story of shoes translate through decades of stories and adventures. Through periods of partying shown in scuffed heels and even the odd old skool trainer playing homage to the warehouse parties of old, there’s rack upon rail of shoes taking up valuable space in the house – but I can’t bring myself to part with even one pair.

There’s basically a shoe for every occasion – the shoes I wore in my first job in PR, the expensive shoes I justified the purchase of because they were sort of in the sale, the summer sandals that have walked beaches from Morecambe to Mexico – and of course the boots that have downed shots in the snow. 

From disco dancing to dog walking my shoe collection is pretty large.

And yesterday I realised it all dates back to the day I ran away from home. 

The day I realised – aged 9 – that if you had on the right pair of shoes they (possibly) gave you permission to do (almost) anything.

I was nine. It was an intense period of my life. Primary school Bulldog 123 was high on the agenda (was I ever going to catch the fastest boy in the school), I was learning to do the rising trot and wondering why mum was just not letting me do what I wanted to do in my independent life as a mature know it all nine year old.

So I told her straight. I had demands. I didn’t want to make blackcurrant cheescake on a Saturday afternoon. And I did want to walk Blackie (the rabbit) on his lead whenever I wanted.

If we couldn’t reach an amicable agreement, I would run away from home. 

I would leave, go out the door, not to return here anymore. 

That would learn her.

Except. She offered to help me pack. And she did. She actually packed my suitcase for me until there was only my going away outfit to decide until I flounced out of her life forever.

And it came down to my shoes. All I remember about that defining outfit were my shoes. My beautiful slightly pointy black patent kitten heels (what was she thinking letting me have kitten heels at that age).

Anyway those black shoes were the equivalent of Dorothy’s shiny red ones and they were going to transport me to the yellow brick road of my dreams.

Bags packed. Shoes on. I was ready to go. 

Mum handed me the case and saw me out of the front door shutting it soundly behind me signalling the start of my journey…….to the third step down.

Where I sat and waited. And realised I had no plan. And quite crucially nowhere to go. 

And was now a little bit worried that mum really was quite happy for me to leave home and forage for my own future. After all she would be saving on some significant school fees.

Anyway – thankfully there is a happy ending to this dark tale of childhood trauma.  

She gave me a good ten hours* sitting on that third step to completely freak me out, all I could do was stare at the one beautiful thing left in my life – my slightly pointy black patent kitten heels – before she opened the front door and welcomed me back home like the long lost, fiercely independent traveller I was. Narnia had nothing on me.

Back in the security of the mother land, my shoes remained on – a marker in the sand for something I almost did.

And so my love affair with shoes was begun – maybe hoping each new pair will take me on a new adventure – or perhaps that mum will always rescue me (profound).

Today up there on the top floor of the house, I have rather a number of markers in the sand, all marking different adventures but none quite as special as those black patent kitten heels.

And mum kept trying to make me leave home – only really succeeding when I was 28 years old. 


Sarah Knight

Trainer and coach in communications. Plate spinner.

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