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Friends Are Like Shoes...

Recently I was in a gift shop where I came across a magnet that read "Friends are like shoes- you can never have too many!" I laughed, thinking, as a woman who Loves shoes with a capital L, that this was oh so true.

A few days later I received an email from a friend who only pops up in my in-box when she wants something- someone I've considered a friend for many years now and someone whose self-centered behavior has never surprised me or bothered me in the past. This time however, her email, which was all about her and what she wanted me to do for her, and which included nothing along the lines of "how are you?" or " how's LP?" or "how's the family?" , struck me differently. After scanning through her message a few times I found myself annoyed and frustrated with both her and myself. And I suddenly realized that the gift shop magnet was completely and totally wrong. Shoes ARE like friends, but NOT because you can never have too many.

On my closet floor currently there are half a dozen or so pairs of shoes that I wear the most frequently- my go-to, everyday shoes. They're comfy, cute, perfectly broken in, and never leave me with a blister or sore arches after a long day of chasing Little Paul around.

With my local girls- fellow playgroup moms (we call it "playgroup" but it's really more about us than it is about the kids!)

To me, these comfy shoes are just like the group of girlfriends I'm closest with- the women, both near and far, who I can always count on for good advice, good laughs, and a good shoulder to cry on or ear to complain to when needed. After spending time in person or on the phone with any of my girls, I always feel happy, content, and loved. I'm never ever left feeling used or taken for granted.

With my high-school and college roomies and besties at my baby shower.

On my shoe rack there are also a few pairs of high heels, mostly purchased in my pre-Paul days when I lived in the city and Friday nights involved drinks at a bar instead of a DVD on the couch. They're sexy and sassy and fairly comfortable as long as I don't have to walk too far. They're not appropriate for playgroup or story time at the library, or even for days in the office, but when I do have a reason to wear them I'm always excited to put them on and prance around. And I always feel fantastic and have a fabulous time.

4-H Camp friends- must have been 4th grade or so..

These shoes are like those special friends who I don't see very often but who I have tons of fun with whenever we are able to get together. They're friends who may be in different places in their lives than I am (i.e. not lugging a diaper bag and a toddler around), but when we're together none of that matters. And even though sometimes we go months and months without seeing each other, it's never awkward when we meet up- we slip right into our comfy friendship and easy conversation.

Beantown friends who I used to have some wild times with back in the day!

The third type of shoe in my closet are the ones that I've had for a long time but hardly every wear. Some of them looked cute on the rack, or were a great deal (I'm a complete sucker for a great deal!) but were only worn once or twice as they always pinched and chafed the wrong way or just never quite went with an outfit the way I thought they would when they were purchased. These are the friends who always rub me the wrong way a little- the ones who never have nice things to say, or who somehow always leave me feeling inadequate or annoyed. These are the friends who I always give one more chance, thinking maybe they were just having a bad day or that they'd be, somehow, different the next time I saw them.

Crazy lovely former roomie- I believe we were hosting our own beauty pageant in our apartment during a very long, cold, snowy Boston winter.
And then there are the shoes that I wore frequently for a long time but are now so out of style or so worn that they simply sit in my closet and collect dust. I loved wearing them at one point in my life but haven't put them on in years and will probably never wear them again.

Dear college friends (and sorority sisters)

The friend who emailed me recently fits in this last category. She and I were great friends back when we were both single urbanites. And while she was just as self-centered then, it didn't bother me. I had the time and energy to put up with her demands and idiosyncrasies, time and energy I don't have now.

High school friends at our 10th reunion

After thinking about shoes and friends this way, I realized something - my shoe rack needs to be cleaned out more regularly. The shoes that always give me blisters need to go no matter how many times I try them on they're never going to fit just right. And the shoes I never wear because they're so worn out or out of style also need to go - they're merely cluttering things up.

College friends hanging out in my dorm room sophomore year (I'm sure that's root beer she's drinking)

My husband doesn't believe in Facebook (with the huge exception of Bejeweled Blitz which he happily plays every evening on my Facebook account) as he thinks that if you're really friends with someone you don't need a social networking site to maintain the relationship. And while I can understand his point of view, I have to politely disagree. Kids today go off to college with cell phone and texting plans and email addresses, but when I was in high school that wasn't the case. As a result I lost touch with many people I cared about as we just weren't good at keeping in touch the old-fashioned way- through letters. Facebook has brought many of these people back into my life (at least in an on-line fashion), which is one of the things I love about the site.

With one of my bestest college buddies...

There are also people on Facebook who I was never really very close to in high school or college - we were simply acquaintances, sharing a dorm bathroom or sitting next to each other in class. Now, however, many of these people have children, and I've been able to use them as resources during pregnancy and parenthood. Whether I'm looking for advice about strollers, discipline issues, or great music for kids, I know someone will be able to help steer me in the right direction or at least share their experiences. This has been invaluable to me as a first-time parent, and as LP gets older I love that not only can I seek out help from others but I can offer my own experiences and advice to my friends with younger children. So while back in the day we might not have hung out all that much, they're people I wouldn't hesitate to call any of these friends up if we were going to be in the area to arrange a get together now.

Same college buddy with our matching cars (borrowed from our parents- not our actual vehicles of choice!)...

My love for Facebook aside, it was the first place I started when cleaning out my shoe-rack. At one point I had more than 300 friends but after looking through the list more carefully I realized that there were many who I was never friends with and never would be, or who I was once friends with but for various reasons have no desire to ever see in person again. And so I de-friended more than half of my list. (Those of you reading my blog through Facebook- YAY! You made the cut- aren't you excited and honored!?) I'm no longer friends with people I never liked, or people who I was in 6th grade math with but never actually spoke to. I'm not friends with friends of friends, or with people with whom I used to work but haven't stayed in contact with. I don't have to block people's status updates any more as all of the people left on my list are people who I want to know about - and if I find myself wanting to block someone I think first about whether or not I should keep them on my friends list at all.

Young and innocent with college friends in London (the innocence didn't last all that long!)

My next step is a little harder the de-friending of in person, real-life, people. Clicking an on-line button is quick and painless, and the other person doesn't know that they're not your friend anymore unless they go searching you out online. Real-life people are much more difficult to de-friend, especially for someone like me who has a hard time saying no to people and who doesn't like to hurt anyone's feelings. It's time though - life is too short to spend time giving of myself to people who don't give back.

With high school friends getting ready for our senior dinner dance (aka Prom)

I'll tackle my actual shoe-rack last.

And so I think that gift store magnet needs a little editing. If I ever find one that reads " Friends are like shoes - if they're tacky, rub you the wrong way, or you just don't like them any more, get rid of them!", I'll buy one on the spot.

Goofing around in London

I'll be cleaning out my shoe closet more regularly now, no longer stuffing the rack full of shoes I've never liked wearing and leaving more room for the shoes I can always rely on to fit just right no matter how frequently or infrequently I wear them.


  1. Very sweet - and very true! Oh, those fun times back in the frigid winter of 20--. :)


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