She grew up watching Cinderella. It was the first movie she ever saw in a theater, a musical she performs often on road trips, one she's watched far beyond an acceptable age to do so, one she can't wait to show her daughter, someday. She still hums that song every once in a while, she'll catch herself: in dreams you will lose your heartache, whatever you wish for you keep...
She'd imagined, once upon a time, that being a grown-up was something like this; hoping secretly that adulthood looked like whirlwind romance, twirling through meadows, and breaking into song at every turn. Certainly, she grew out of this dream in it's fullness. She accepted that she would likely not be rescued from a tower or dressed by squirrels in a forest every morning and the like. Those were realities she could handle. But like any little girl who's grown up might admit to you in a moment of vulnerable truth-telling, one doesn't fully let go of wanting to be Cinderella. The dream changes over time, of course. But well into adulthood, in my experience, a little bit of your heart still believes that it's possible, one day, to feel like Cinderella again.
She is a full-on grown up now, with a job and bills and a retirement account and a dentist she found all on her own. She walks through a mall, mindlessly, on an evening with potential for loneliness. She is thinking it would be nice to have something new, pretty. And with full awareness that there are life necessities like rent and car insurance to be paid, she steps cautiously into her favorite store, which on a good day she can neither a) afford or b) resist. She saunters back to the sale room, nonchalantly touching dresses on the way, trying not to get attached. She peruses candles, aprons, pillows, and a smattering of accessories thrown haphazardly into a tub, when something shiny catches her eye.
It is perfection, in a shoe. Unique, delicate, flashy, and stylish - with a sensible heel. One pair left.
Cautiously she reaches for them, they appear to be an appropriate size, she is certain she could not be so lucky. Sliding one on to her foot, her breath catches as her heel slides perfectly into the back of the shoe.
Suddenly she is overcome with a feeling that transports her back to a time much simpler than this one; she is running out the front door, tripping a little as she kicks off a patent-leather shoe for a particularly participatory uncle to retrieve. He chases her down the driveway, she slows theatrically, just a little short of breath because her favorite part comes next. He stops in front of her and places the shoe over a ruffled sock on her tiny foot. As always, a perfect fit. She felt special. Pursued. Fancy. Loved. Happy.
It's not that she doesn't know it's a bit silly - this stupid pair of shoes tucked back in a sale room for half of half the price in exactly her size and style - for this to be an impactful moment in her life. It seemed she had forgotten for a moment - but on a lonely Wednesday evening in a sale room, all at once, she is special, pursued, fancy, loved, happy as she ever was. A little girl, grown up - a whole world of possibilities ahead of her - and a sparkly pair of shoes to wear as she faces whatever comes next.