Yesterday I bought myself a pair of Birkenstock sandals, the first pair I’ve owned in decades. I hope my fashionista granddaughter doesn’t read this because she will shake her head sadly and lament, “Mimi, you didn’t.” But yes, I most certainly did. When my husband saw them, he said, “Oh, I see you’ve bought your winter shoes.” He remembers when I wore my old Birkenstock sandals year ’round. I wore them with knee socks when the weather turned cold. I wore them with shorts and slacks and even skirts and dresses. And when they finally wore out, I’d buy another pair just like them and keep going.
I’ve never been a fancy dresser, unlike my mother who wore dresses, jewelry and make-up every day. She never owned a pair of jeans. I don’t remember her even having a pair of sneakers. I gravitated to more of the “disheveled” look. My Birkenstocks made me feel like Nature Girl, a child of the Sixties, a devil-may-care free spirit. Not that I was, but my Birkies helped feed my illusion.
My teenaged daughter used to groan when she saw me dressed to take her somewhere with her friends, my long, gathered denim skirt and Birkies with knee socks adorning my body, while her friends’ mothers wore their chic little preppie outfits. Maybe I was clueless, but I didn’t much think about, much less care about, dressing to fit in. I had my own style, built around my beloved Birkenstocks.
Then I got a job. I had to dress like a professional. I started seeing myself as a professional, and after my last pair of Birkies wore out, I never replaced them. Talbot’s became the store that defined my fashion. I went for the tailored, classic look. Though I never did venture into the realm of heels, my shoes were fashionable Vaneli flats. And over the years, I forgot about those wonderful sandals that made my feet so happy and my daughter so miserable. Until…
Yesterday! While I whiled away the time in a shopping area, waiting for a printing job to be completed at an office store, I ventured into a shoe store that specialized in European comfort shoes. The row upon row of Birkenstocks nearly took my breath away. I felt weak in the knees. And I knew, without a doubt, I could not leave that store without a pair of those wonderful sandals on my feet.
Life is good now. My feet are happy. I feel free-spirited again. I want to go out and pick flowers, maybe make a loaf of bread. Let’s see what’s in my closet to go with these new, soon to be beloved, Birkies…Ah, my denim skirt!