Monday, March 3, 2014

My heart broke at Value Village

The shoes were stunning.  Beautiful burgundy brogues, glowing in the flourescent lights of Value Village.  I spotted them from the end of the women's jackets aisle.    I'm always on the look out for a great pair of mens' shoes for David.  They have to be big shoes, David has massive feet.  Wide, wide, WIDE, flipper feet.  He usually buys an 11.5 or even a 12 to fit his toes into them.

So when I saw these spectacular shoes on the wall, my heart leapt.  They were pristine.  Beatifully polished - I looked at the soles, hardly any wear to them.  The tag said 14+ on them.  They were at least a size 14.  Such a shame - they were actually too large for David.  They'd be like clown shoes on him.  But they were stunning.  Probably from the 50s - I wanted to photograph them and make an encaustic print of them to hang upon my wall, they were so lovely.

Then I spotted another pair of shoes - same size - equally beautiful.  And another... and another.  6 in total.  All beautifully polished, all size 14+.

My heart sank.  These shoes, like everything else in Value Village, had belonged to someone.  They had belonged to someone who cared for them, who polished them, who took pride in wearing them.  These shoes had been donated in bulk.  Not because they were unfashionable or worn out, but because their owner had died.  A man, with size 14+ feet had died.  A snappy dresser of a man who shoed himself in the 50s - was now dead.  I imagined him very tall and thin - like a young Jimmy Stewart, with pleated trousers - possibly suspenders, a quick smile.

My heart sank again.  Who had donated the shoes?  His wife?  His life partner?  Had his surviving loved ones been responsible for the impeccably polished leather?  Had they spent an afternoon polishing these shoes before carefully placing them inside a box?  Before stuffing that box with paper and then taping it shut to go to Value Village?  Had their hands trembled while holding the packing tape?  Had they wept?  I was near to weeping imagining it all.

I started when Rissa placed her hand on my arm.

"What's wrong?"

"These shoes belonged to someone," I said.

She looked confused.  "Didn't they ALL belong to someone?"

"Yes baby, they did.  But this someone is now dead."

"How do you know?"

"I just do."

She didn't ask any more questions.  She held my hand and squeezed it.  We stayed quiet for a few moments more before we turned away, still holding hands and walked to the jeans aisle.

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