What falls away

I took a day off work to go shoe shopping a few weeks ago. I had ample time coming to me, warm weather was then just around the corner and I needed a few pairs to go with the summer clothes I’ve been itching to wear the last few weeks of unseasonably cold wet weather. I needed to be prepared for that first hot barelegged day.

Normally, shoe shopping would not simply be a process of procuring necessary footwear; it would be a treasure hunt. Entertainment at its finest. I had a clean Amex card and a mall with an obscene number of shoe stores. What could be better?

After the third store and at least two hours spent trying on cute flats that cut violently into my skin or made my calves look heavy or were far more interesting on the shelf than they were at the end of my legs, I got the sense that I just wasn’t into the experience at the usual level. My efforts quickly burnt through the morning crepes I’ve enjoyed alone with the paper in a chic café—and I found I needed a cappuccino kick-me-up much earlier than expected. In one tiny and cramped but oh so hip store, I rose too quickly and banged my head on a shelf. I learned that my feet are widening with age. While that makes sense, I have been on them for 51 years, give or take (I was so slow in learning to walk, I think my mother feared I’d be taking my walker with the busy board off to college); the news pained me more than the knock on the noggin.

Finally, frustrated, I wound up at what I would have even recently referred to as “an old lady shoe shop.”  Still, there were a few things that would work. A nice pair of not too high wedges, very big this season. Very hip gold canvas flats. And these wonderful blue Mary-Janes that felt like a running shoe inside. No more blisters. No more cracking knees. Get this—they measured my feet. I don’t remember a shoe store doing that since grade school, when the end of August meant new Buster Browns.

So I got the shoes. And a bottle of the perfume I always wear, the one of three scents that doesn’t choke my love. I spilled Orange Julius on my shirt. My tights were getting elephantine near the ankles from a succession of footwear changes. And then some seemingly 400-pound teen who must have been carrying a piano in his knapsack stepped on my foot in the bus. I yelped aloud.

Wounded, nearly blooded, it dawned on me. Shopping isn’t fun anymore.


But it’s true. I’ve found lately there are a lot of things I used to enjoy that I really couldn’t care less about these days. When we lived in the city, we ate out two or three times a week. Now I much prefer to eat at home. It tastes better, I can have exactly what I want and I know what the kitchen looks like. I’m more comfortable and unlike one’s fellow restaurant companions, my love and Zoey aren’t that demanding about adhering to a dress code at the table. Or in front of the TV for that matter.

I used to like spending weekends touring museums or quaint “on the edge” neighborhoods. Now I’d have to restrain the desire to trip rude tourists (or give them bogus directions). And I find that most of what these chic enclaves are on the edge of is pretension. My love and I used to be spend weekends wandering through one model home after another. Now just the thought of taking off and putting on my shoes that many times makes me feel the need for a nap.

Maybe age makes us lazy. Or disinterested. Or more likely, it’s just that our wants and our priorities change. Trying to have fun isn’t fun anymore. But I spent hours at the garden centre this afternoon, carrying out armloads of brilliant oranges and yellows and reds, new silvery mauve roses and summer-smelling tomato seedlings, which I’m looking forward to planting. I’m happy planning the coconut and banana crème tarts, and brownie ice cream sundaes I’m making for a BBQ on our new deck this weekend. And when this blog is done, I’ll crawl into bed with that new Kathy Reichs mystery. Her mutilated, decomposing body finds and close calls tend to ease me into sleep.

The thing is I’m content. More content than I ever remember being. And I know I’ve earned the feeling. So I’ve got wide feet and a bump on my head and swollen toes. Tomorrow I’ll have dirty nails from planting the cucumbers and scratches from wrestling down the roses. Those tarts are going to pack on a few pounds. Big deal. And I’ve finally earned the right to read trashy books and stay home as much as I want without excuses.

When we were kids, we were told it’s the little things that matter. I found the sentiment rather limiting. I wanted the big things. That was important to me. But it’s amazing how gradually and subtly but surely the superficial stuff falls away. Leaving you with a far better view of what actually matters.


I would have loved to share to gory details of the colonoscopy I wrote about preparing for last week, but the truth is, the last thing I remember is the nurse telling me that she was putting something to help me relax in my IV. Relax? I was out for the count. I’m just hoping I didn’t snore or talk in my sleep. The prep was a bit trying, but certainly not the horror show I was warned it would be. Here’s the thing—other than this procedure, there’s no other way to screen for colon cancer—and while it’s a widespread cancer, it’s one with good survival rates if caught early enough. So do it. Get your GP to refer you to a gastroenterologist who practices patient sedation, grit your teeth and do the prep day, then lie down, have a nap and get screened. If everyone could have the experience of the procedure  I did, I’m sure a lot more people would get tested—and a lot of lives could be saved. 


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