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Location: New York, New York, United States

Monday, February 06, 2006

Because of a broken heel 8/8/03

My attention span is short these days. Daydream for a minute and I almost get run over. A taxi cab came barreling down the street at me yesterday, its abrupt horn nearly knocking me off my sandals. Today someone stepped on my heel and broke it off as I stopped to listen to a homeless man's serenade. "You are so beautiful," the bedraggled man sang to a woman walking by. Her companion laughed, and when the man was denied a tip for his performance, he said, "That's okay. Someday I will be a millionaire! I'll invite you both for a trip on my yacht!"

When I noticed the bottom part of my heel had come off, I walked back to retrieve it. There it lay -- a black rubber dee-shape, abandoned like the runt of the litter. I picked it up and inspected it as though its nails and grooved pattern fascinated me. After carrying the heel for a few blocks (perhaps as proof of my hobbling pace), I threw it into a garbage can.

And so now I have officially become a cliche. In my quest for originality, I have resorted to this: a wide-eyed, pony-tailed, suburban-raised import, wandering the streets of New York aimlessly. I have book-smarts to spare, but they are of little help when I am stranded at the McDonald's in Times Square because of a broken heel.

Instead of getting frustrated by this, I can feel my excitement building. I must buy new shoes now, out of necessity. My explorations of the city have led me into many shoe stores these past three months, but I have yet to buy a pair. I can barely feed myself, much less buy new shoes. Maybe I will skip dinner tonight. I need these shoes for work tomorrow.

I imagine that this kind of struggling should get me down. But when you spend your whole life in a survivor mindset, you learn to expect a struggle. It was always harder to explain the bruises when I had to punch myself. This city seems to be filled with masochists, however. Maybe I fit in better than I thought. We complain about how tough it is here, but secretly we love it. We are all waiting for the day when we finally beat it. But we can't win against a city. It's just too big.

This is what happens when you barely ever look before leaping. I look around me everyday and I see these fashionable, strong, business-like women. I feel I must wear their uniform, share their armor in order to protect myself. Any visible flaw ruins my chances in survival of the fittest.

But freshly-shod racehorses only run faster for a short time. They can't blame the racetrack for their shoes getting rusty. If anything, they should be proud of their broken heels -- evidence of many races run, many battles won, and the stamina to keep on running.

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