My (Elevated) Life: If the Shoe Fits

I love shoes. Any kind of shoes, sneakers, flats, boots, whatever. But my first love is high heels. I own heels in every color and shape. I have purple stilettos, black wedges, and pink pumps. I own shoes with round toes, flat toes, peep toes, and toes so pointed I had to buy a size larger to accommodate my foot.

My obsession with shoes started early. When I was little, I had foot problems and had to wear ugly orthopedic shoes. I always had two pairs, one in black and one in brown.

When I was nine, I got my first pair of sneakers, a pair of Converse Chuck Taylors in red and white, my school colors. How I loved those shoes, I was soooo cool. That’s when I first discovered that no matter what I was wearing or how bad I felt, with the right pair of shoes I always looked and felt great.

My first pair of shoes with a heel, small as it was, was when I was about 13. They were white sandals with a kitten-type heel and straps that wrapped around my ankles. That’s when I learned the power of the high heel. That’s also when I also realized why my grandma always wore heels, even when she was working around the house.

I was hooked.

During the 80s, I was a prep and gave up most of my high heels for Bass Weejuns and penny loafers that I wore with argyle socks, knee-length shorts and Fair Isle sweaters.

Thank goodness that phase didn’t last long.

After boot camp, I was sent to San Diego for school. One of the first things I did was go to the Marine Corps Exchange where I found a beautiful pair of red and black snakeskin pumps with a four-inch stiletto heel. I was in love, and it wasn’t with a Marine (this time).

I had to have them in spite of the $120 price tag. The problem was, as a recruit I wasn’t allowed to wear civilian clothes or even have them in my locker in the barracks. So I rented a locker at the local USO, and hid my precious shoes in it for over a month until I earned a coveted “civilian clothes chit.” Then, of course, I was forced to buy something to wear with them.

The good part was that I was wearing those shoes when I met my first husband at the Enlisted Club, and even though he’s an ex, he did give me two beautiful children. I still have those shoes.

Through the years, my heel height has gone up and down with the stages of my life. I wore super-high heels as a young woman, then graduated to sensible “mommy shoes” later.

When I was a runner, I owned a half-dozen pairs of very expensive running shoes. I had shoes for everyday running, for trail running and for running on the treadmill or the indoor track. My everyday shoes were usually retired running shoes.

I did still wear dress shoes to work, but as an ag reporter, I learned early on to keep it sensible.

My first agriculture assignment was a story on soybean aphids during an infestation. On the day I was supposed to meet with a farmer, I had another meeting that required that I dress up. Long story short...I ended up in a soybean field taking photos of soybean aphids in a short pencil skirt and four-inch heels.

Now, between work and my crappy joints, I tend to keep my shoes on the sensible side. With a fake (bionic) knee, and RA in my ankles and feet, I need to be weary of ultra-high heels, but the new wedges are awesome, they have the look of an ultra-high heel, but don’t feel like it.

Last month, I visited my daughter at her house in Minnesota. She announced that she had just gotten something “amazing.”
“Is it an engagement ring?” I asked.

“No,” she said laughing as she carried a shoe box out of her office. “It’s these.” And she pulled out a pair of magenta wedged pumps, which she put on and walked around the room like she owned it (so technically she did). It was one of my proudest moments. She had grown up to be just like me.

Hanson is a reporter at the Times-Record who writes a weekly column. You can reach her at