Shoes and Relationships

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Illustration by VIktoria Tsaleva
Reading Time: 2 minutes

Words: Raffaella De Lia

Illustration: Victoria Tsaleva

I put on a cute pair of shoes for the opening of an exhibit I was heading to. A new environment, the ‘smell’ of a cultural-social event we all have been missing so much, summer in the air, and a new city on whose streets I indulge in strolling. A city that surprises me, that doesn’t reveal itself at once, but that makes me feel at ease, in a comforting balance between familiarity and strangeness, urban and provincial, international and cozy. 

Going back to my shoes. I decided to celebrate the going-back-to-normal-in-a-new-city-in-summer wearing that cute pair of shoes. Ladies know by experience that cute doesn’t necessarily mean comfortable. On the contrary. Still, I stuck to my ‘cuteness’ plan, which turned my usual pleasant strolling along the meandering lanes of my new town into a burning—literally and metaphorically—wish to choose the shortest way to my destination to ease the pain inflicted on my feet by said shoes. Still, I made it somehow relatively unscathed to the exhibit after a twenty-minute walk, during which I was trying to convince myself that the pain was just a question of perception.

Once at my destination and despite the lack of a reassuring chair, bench or else on which I could have given respite to my aching feet, I was able to enjoy the drawings, the pleasant social chatting, the people-watching and the people-meeting. Then I decided to head out into the beautiful summer evening. My feet, however, took me back to reality. I decided stoically to walk back home anyway, the cuteness of my shoes untouched. And then it dawned on me: I chose those shoes the same way I have chosen in my life uncomfortable—if not straight painful—relationships. I have deliberately associated myself with people who were ‘cute’ for one reason or the other: good-looking, of social status, highly educated and the like. Did their ‘cuteness’ make my life more pleasant? Not necessarily. While beauty, sharing social status and education are still important, one—you and I, in fact—may also want to find a pair of shoes/friendships/relationships that make one’s journey—yours and mine—through the meanders of a city or a life just easier, more enjoyable. It’s as simple as that. The choice of a pair of shoes or a friend is ours to do. Let’s choose wisely, then.

Epilogue

The day after the opening of the exhibit, I went shoe-buying. Did I need yet another pair of shoes? Yes and no. In terms of numbers, I didn’t need another addition to the bunch I already have. In terms of comfort + cuteness, I did (I cannot go to social events in my flip-flops). So, here we go. And I found what I was looking for: cuteness AND comfort, hopefully a sign of what awaits me in the new, beautiful city and of the better choices I will make for my life. 

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An Italian New Yorker, Raffaella moved to Trieste from the Big Apple in 2021 and fell head over heels for the city. After 22 years in NYC, however, she is still struggling to give up her NY gait for a more relaxed triestino pace, and to navigate the narrow sidewalks of the Città vecchia. Raffaella loves many things: writing, reading, music, colours, books, languages, the unpretentious beauty of her native Puglia, and coffee. Or should we say "capo in b"?

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