A few nights ago after tucking my daughter into bed, I walked into the living room with the intent of tidying up a bit. In my haste, I promptly tripped over something that I hadn’t noticed in the floor. There, in a pile on the living room floor (in exactly the same haphazard manner that they had landed in when she kicked them off of her feet earlier in the evening) were my daugher’s favorite cowboy boots. Countless times over the years I have tripped over those same boots, and countless times as I picked them up, I have muttered under my breath about how dirty and worn out they looked. More often than not, I would also catch myself thinking that it was far past time to toss those old boots out. However, this time it was different. This time I instantly remembered the sound her boots had made earlier in the day as they hit the floor with a thud. I remembered how she hadn’t taken her eyes off the page of the book she was reading when she kicked them off. I remembered thinking to myself that the book must be extremely well-written, as it was clear that she was making herself comfortable by curling up on the couch so that she could finish reading. As I limped to the couch with my twisted ankle, instead of muttering under my breath about how dirty and worn out her boots looked, I picked them up, held them tight to my chest, and smiled.
I let my mind wander back to the day that I first laid eyes on those boots. All of a sudden, I was transported back in time to the Spring of 2013. There I was scrolling through listings on Amazon.com looking for an out of print paperback book. Isabella had borrowed a Babysitter’s Club book from the library, and somehow it had “disappeared” from her desk at school. Since the book was out of print, the library was unable to purchase another copy. They offered to let me pay the cost of a new book that they wanted to purchase for the library, or to find a replacement in good shape. I decided to give the internet a try. So there I was searching through the book titles, and out of the corner of my eye under the “you might also be interested in” section, I saw a pair of adorable white boots. I clicked to enlarge the picture, and immediately knew that my little girl just had to have those boots. They were white with butterflies and flowers embroidered on them. What 9 year old girly-girl wouldn’t love a cute pair of boots with butterflies and flowers? As fate would have it, they only had two pairs left, and neither was in her size. One pair was a size too big, and the other was 4 sizes too big. Since it was only Spring, I figured that she would grow into them by Fall, so I went ahead and added the pair that was a size too big to my cart. I made sure to have them shipped to me at work, so that she wouldn’t inadvertantly see them before her birthday.
The day the boots came and I saw them in person, I realized that there was no way that I would be able to hold the boots back until her birthday. Yes, I can be worse than a child waiting for Christmas morning. I just couldn’t wait to see her reaction, so I decided to give them to her when we got home on the same day that they had arrived on the big, brown truck. I still remember the look on my soon to be 9 year old child’s face when she opened the box that held those “magic” boots. Do you remember the feeling you got when you locked eyes with the love of your life for the very first time? Or the feeling you got when you saw the face of your child for the first time after they were born? That is exactly how Isabella looked at those boots. She was clutching them to her chest and swinging around the living room. She ran straight to her room for a pair of socks so that she could try them on. I remember warning her that they were going to be a little big, but she wasn’t hearing any of it. A few moments later, she was in the living room floor trying them on. She stood up, and waltzed around like she was the next Queen of England. Those boots boosted her confidence so much that I can still remember smiling and thinking that she looked like she had grown 4 inches in the time it took to walk around our tiny living room. I hope that as old age takes over, that memory never leaves me. It is definitely one of my most cherished moments.
I had no idea at the time that I gave her that box, that we were about to embark on an amazing 3 year long journey with those boots. Over the next three years, she and her boots went all over the place together. Skating rinks, movie theaters, school hallways, concert halls, sporting events, graduations, libraries, hospitals, beaches, bars, music video sets, several different U.S. states, walks in the woods, and countless other places.
If her boots could talk, oh the stories they could tell. They could tell the story of the butterflies Isabella felt when she got that check yes or no note from the cutest boy in class in 4th grade. They could also tell the story of her heart breaking when the same boy broke up with her almost a year later. They could tell stories about shopping with her best friend…those perfect days when the two of them would try on clothes for hours on end, twirling around in dresses they would not buy, and collapsing in giggles in the dressing room. All the while my friend & I would stand outside going back and forth between exasperation at spending hours in the store, and the shear joy of hearing our girls making memories and enjoying life. If those boots could talk, they would talk of climbing rocks and other tasks that really are best suited to hiking boots or tennis shoes.
If her boots could talk, they could tell stories about the wonderful people who have come into our lives over the past three years. They could tell of the amazing adventures and numerous road trips to see the Joe Lasher Jr. band. They could tell funny tales of Isabella at Hillbilly Woodstock doing cartwheels in her cut off jean shorts and flowered shirt, looking like she could easily have been part of the Moonshiner’s cast. Her boots could tell of trips to see old friends, new friends, and family both far and wide. They could tell stories of us singing to the tops of our lungs, dancing on beer-soaked floors in bars that a girl her age probably shouldn’t have been in, taking road trips with the windows down, Bon Jovi blaring through the speakers, and wind blowing through our hair. Those boots could tell stories of that precocious child stomping in mud puddles “just because she could”, riding rides at amusment parks, convincing her mom to go on a midnight run to Walmart just to buy a package Oreos, and stories of sunny days that turned into perfect moments for impromptu photo shoots. Those boots could tell of a million other moments that we spent together, me in my flip flops and Isabella in her “magic” boots.
Over the past few years, Isabella has purchased and been gifted several other pairs of boots. Though she likes all of them well enough, none of them have been able to replace those “magic” boots that she loves so dearly. We call them “magic” boots because they have somehow managed to grow along with Isabella’s foot for the past three years. She has gone from a size 1 shoe to a size 5 shoe in the past three years, but some how or another, those “magic” boots still fit. Granted, they are growing less white and more snug with each passing day, but she loves them as much today as she did the day she got them. I spend hours cleaning and polishing them, only to have her return home a few hours later with her boots looking like she has walked through a mudhole. I realized the other night as I was clutching those boots tightly to my chest, that Isabella sees those boots in much the same way that a mom sees her child. No matter how old my daughter gets, and no matter how much time ages us both, I will likely always see her as that little girl with rosy cheeks twirling around in our living room…trying on her “magic” boots for the very first time.
Photo credit to Kristy Silver