I was a young girl during the 1960’s, and like everyone at the time, I was madly in love with the crazy wild colorful fashions of the day. Bell bottoms, miniskirts, and…
Maybe it was the hippie dippie dancers on Laugh-In that triggered my passion. I don’t recall. But, oh, how I loved those boots! I wanted a pair so badly, the way all children want what they want. Beyond reason, without cost-to-benefit analysis, without practical consideration. The heart’s yearning is fathomless, and fulfillment of the wish feels like a life or death matter.
I pleaded with my mother for a pair of those boots. The way I begged for Lady Janes when I was in first grade. Back then my mother dispassionately explained to me that patent leather shoes weren’t practical. They didn’t “breathe.” Her answer to me at that time was a resounding unequivocal no.
As it was this time.
Lucky for me, the Universe heard my prayer and decided to answer it anyway. A neighborhood friend’s sister had outgrown her perfect condition knee-high, white, zippered, clunky-heeled authentic GoGo boots. And she generously offered them to me for free.
I was in heaven! I confess, they were a little bit tight on my feet, too. They weren’t so comfortable for walking any distance. But I cherished them. I loved wearing them around the house, playing dress-up, and just gazing at them on my closet floor. Those boots inspired bliss.
Meanwhile, massive riots were plaguing urban areas around the country. We were living outside Buffalo, New York when the 1967 riot ravaged that city. An organization called the “Fresh Air Fund” started soliciting suburban families to take inner city kids for a few weeks during the summer to give them a break from the violence surrounding them. My mom, ever the champion of underdogs and the underprivileged, happily signed up and sponsored two young children to join our family for two weeks that summer.
Without question, it was a noble and wonderful gesture. But, this benevolence precipitated the demise of my brief love affair with my GoGo boots.
At some point during this two-week stint, unbeknownst to me, my mother had a conversation with the young girl we were hosting where the topic of my boots must have been discussed. I don’t know what possible exchange could have prompted it, but my mother inexplicably decided to give my boots to this girl. She did not ask me, or even tell me about it. She did not provide me the opportunity to protest. One day my lovely GoGo boots simply disappeared from my closet floor and WentWent into the suitcase of this young girl as she packed for the drive back to Buffalo.
This felt like a huge betrayal. But when I complained, my mother made me feel ashamed for selfishly wanting to keep the boots, calmly stating: “They don’t even fit you!” I felt guilty for resenting that my prized possession was re-gifted to someone else, without a whisper of consultation or an ounce of compassion for my hurt feelings and sense of loss.
It remains a conundrum to me. My mother is a thoroughly sweet, loving, caring human being. I cannot explain why she felt this outright theft was justified or excusable. Her desire to mitigate the suffering of another child must have blinded her and superseded any concern she might have had for the suffering of her own.
But this was not a one-off.