Finding Big Foot at REI

Last night we attended Verdi’s Macbeth at the Metropolitan Opera  and I made the mistake of wearing a pair of trendy heels to create an outfit that would be Opera appropriate.  Of course upon arrival at Lincoln Center, I saw the range of interpretations of opera appropriate clothing and realized that I probably just should have worn my Ugg boots; in some circles I still would have been over dressed.

Heels have always felt oppressive and silly and I rarely wear them for any occasion. Even on my wedding day I wore ballerina flats. Moreover as my skin condition becomes more demanding each year, I’ve transitioned to wearing boots most of the year to protect my extremities from the cool air that might induce pain and limit my movements. I get bored, however, of my uniform looks and once and awhile I’ll try something a little different; the excruciating pain is usually enough to set my priorities straight. On the subway home all I could think was: I need to buy shoes for the Coast to Coast and start breaking them in; I don’t want to be in any pain for our trip.

So we headed back to REI and EMS, which are both conveniently located around the block from one another in SoHo to begin exploring the possibilities. A kind shout out to Richard at REI who spent at least an hour with me going through various cuts and styles of boots and trail runners (thanks syoung for the recommendation). I have always been a bit footed girl, but to my horror, today, I uncovered that your feet can keep growing even at 29!

Poor Richard! One would have thought that we were in our own perverse outdoorsy version of Cinderlla. After about the twentieth ill fitting and uncomfortable shoe, it was suggested that I check to see if I really was the size that I believed myself to be. Measuring my foot was the equivalent of slitting the evil stepsister’s heel in the Grimm’s Fairy tale; neither the stepsister, nor I are who we pretend to be. I’ve uncovered that I am really a ginormous size 10! Even after scientific measurement ascertained that I was a size 10, I refused to believe it and tried on several more size 9 shoes.  As we know through grief studies, after denial comes acceptance and I was finally able to come to terms with my Sasquatch feet and moved from the cutesy colorful row of women’s shoes to the several shelf compound of men’s shoes.

Some great things about being a size 10.

1) You now fit into men’s shoes and because men still rule the world, they have an enormous selection of cuts and styles. The variety is impressive and of course men’s clothing is always a fraction of the price of women’s clothing.

2) There are fewer women with Sasquatch feet; you are more likely to snag a great pair on clearance.

I settled on a perfect pair of Tevas, which is a rather ironic choice, if you know my history with this brand. My first time wearing Tevas was about six years ago when I tried on a pair at a Birkenstock and Friends store in Oregon. My husband, then boyfriend, saw me in my Teva sandals, required Oregonian footwear, and said with enthusiasm: you look like a hippie princess. That’s when I cried. Not totally certain of my decision to move West, not wanting to be compared to the very kind, but irrationally dressed sales clerk who wore patchouli rather than speedstick, I broke down into a full body convulsing sob. The Tevas enhanced my homesickness. I bought a pair of Privos, dressy Clarks, as an East Coast/West Coast compromise shoe and never looked back.

Now about to embark on a trip I probably wouldn’t be equipped to take had I not lived in the West, I am ready to be the person I couldn’t have been six years ago. So with my Sasquatch feet and my men’s Teva trail runners, we’re almost ready to walk the Coast to Coast.

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About 30 Ways of Walking

Gina Liotta's writing has appeared in or is forthcoming in The New York Quarterly, Slate, The Paterson Literary Review, LIPS, and The Healing Muse, among others. She lives, writes and teaches in New York.
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8 Responses to Finding Big Foot at REI

  1. For the moment, at least, my feet have stabilized at 9.5, but I have no particular reason to think they won’t grow again. Toward the end of my pregnancy, the only shoes I could wear were Mr. Sandwich’s running shoes–even my flip-flops cut into my feet! Fortunately, they did go back to 9.5.

  2. sgyoung says:

    I just came across a book that I think you’d love (apologies if you’re already familiar with it & double apologies if you’ve blogged about it before I discovered your site):
    WILD by Cheryl Strayed, hiker of PCT. Her hike was in the 90s, the book is 2012 though. It is truly a great read. She has a website cherylstrayed.com and she is a way successful writer these days. She basically weaves together the story of her hike with the story of why she hiked which is the story of her life up to the hike.

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