As we near the end of our delightful and refreshing three-month sabbatical, my husband/co-pastor and I are finally doing all those little house projects we’ve been meaning to get to. Yesterday we moved things around in the basement, which serves as our den, laundry room, and second guest room, and in moving stuff, we cleared out the closet. As we went through only two plastic bins there, I found my wedding shoes.
“It’s probably time to give these away,” I said.
“Probably,” my husband replied.
I LOVED my wedding shoes. My dear friend Alison, my co-bride who like me was getting married for the first time in her early forties, whose wedding was three weeks before our own, agreed to go shoe shopping with me. We discovered a charming store in uptown Chicago that specialized in wedding shoes. She found what she needed, and I found what I needed. Off-white satin with pumps with an ankle strap and rhinestone buckle, with what I thought would be a very comfortable 2 inch heel. Fifteen minutes into the reception, not so comfortable. But no mind. I loved the shoes, which no one saw, and which I happily took off later in the evening.
When we returned from our honeymoon, I realized that I would rarely wear these beautiful off-white shoes again, so I had them dyed black. I believe I wore them once after that, because a few months later I got pregnant, my feet swelled, and after the baby my feet were never quite the same. So the shoes have been sitting in this bin for 13 1/2 years and I don’t need to be a KonMari practitioner to know that if you haven’t worn something for 13 1/2 years, it’s time to let it go.
We went to the Goodwill drop off this morning and the gentlemen took our things. The bag holding everything broke so it was a bit of a mess, and as we drove away, I saw a lone, dyed-black wedding shoe lying there in the dust.
There are many things I would do differently if I were to marry Gregg again. I would not make my bridesmaids wear matching periwinkle dresses. (Thank you, thank you, AM & EF.) I would get a different dress. I might ditch the tiara that held my veil in place.
But there are so many things I would do exactly the same. I would marry Gregg again. I would have AM and EF stand up with me. The wedding party would enter to everyone singing a hymn. I would walk down the aisle with my dad, a memory that is so poignant now that he’s gone. I would have all those beloved family and friends there. I might not register for gifts, but I would eat cake and dance and take all that joy all over again.
Of course, a wedding is not a marriage, as I tell betrothed couples . A wedding is a herald of what’s to come, but in the years that unfold, cake gives way to boxed mac ‘n’ cheese, and veils give way to hats that hide a bad hair day, and beautiful satin shoes sit in the closet while sneakers are laced up or clogs slide on and socks mysteriously lose their mates in the dryer.
As I mentioned, we’re near the end of our sabbatical, and I’m so grateful for this time away. One of the things I have most strongly realized is that I really love my husband. Perhaps this should be obvious, but when you work with your spouse, and when you share an office with your spouse, you can lose sight of all the reasons you married that person. We’ve spent all but five days of this sabbatical together, but there has been space to breathe and see each other anew.
I have no idea if he would say the same thing about me. Maybe, maybe not. But I’m still so grateful for a fantastic wedding that heralded a marriage that would be filled with beloved family and friends, and dancing, and cake. But we promised each other never to give shoes as a gift – maybe that’s the secret to it all.