I wouldn't recommend that anyone try my shoes. At size 5, sometimes 4.5, they're a bit small for most people to fit into. Mind you, I wouldn't recommend my FEET to anyone either, since they're the ones that's causing the problem with my shoe size. After all they're shaped that way --but they would require an act of God, Nature, and plastic surgery to correct so I'll just leave them out of the equation for now and blame the shoes instead. It's easier in the long run.
My very first pair of 'I-want-those-now!' shoes were a pair of strappy red and white 2" sandals of the sort that would make any sane adult blush in shame to wear. Then again, being about 5 years old sort of colours one's judgement. My mother said Absolutely Not, upon which I persuaded my grandmother to get them for me, and promptly sprained my ankle in them so badly I was laid up in bed for a few days.
We retired the shoes after that. I don't remember much of what else happened, so they probably met a quiet, given-away-to-someone end.
My first pair of 'I-am-grown-up-see-me-strut' shoes were white close-toed high-heels with a basket-weave pattern in a woman's size 3. They were for a wedding - I was to be the bridesmaid for a friend of my family's. They lasted me quite some time and died a natural death after about a year or so of not-so-careful pre-adolescent use. When you're 11, grown-up shoes are one of the yearned-for validations that one's a Grown Up Person. I was a Big Girl Now. I wore them proudly. I strutted. I was a lady, and I felt like a lady in them.
I yearned for high-topped basketball sneakers as a teenager; oh I yearned for them and craved them because I wanted to be a boy. I wore them just like the older teenage boys did - unlaced, arrogantly, and with the certain knowledge that I was Not A Silly Girl, I was a Tomboy. That wasn't quite as good as being a boy, but it came close.
When I went to college, the first thing I did to celebrate my return to the world of Normal Girl was to buy a pair of stiletto-heeled velveteen strap sandals with russet-and-gold flowers. I did this because I fell in love. Naturally it was unrequited. The matter was settled over a long quiet talk after dinner one night, afterwhich I was convinced that the root of most of my social problems in college was my trying too hard to appear tough and manly (it was.) The sandals lasted me through a Diploma in Liberal Arts and all the way into the continuation of my degree overseas. They were promises of good things yet to come.
Nowadays? Finding the right shoes is almost impossible because all that clattering about on rocky terrain and hard tarmac gave me a permanent tendon injury, not to mention walking miles to get anywhere during my university years. Anyone who enthusiastically recommends walking to and fro to work and school generally has never done it through pouring rain, ill-favoured umbrellas, freezing winters and iced-over sidewalks. (They've also probably never clomped to work in a pretty magenta Indian-cotton broomstick skirt and black tank top, and been followed by a policeman in a patrol car who is of the opinion you're a hooker - at 12pm under the blazing heat with a huge rucksack and minimal makeup, at that. But that's a different story.)
So let's talk about ideal shoes for the moment. My dream pair would be comfortable to walk on - soft cushiony impact each step, ooooh what bliss. They'd have good sturdy heels, the elevation of which would give definition to my short legs and elongate my calves to a work of art. They'd be multi-purpose for a variety of occasions - blue jeans and pearls, dinner-and-dance, work, casual wear. Practical and useful and just lovely. They'd allow me to sail across the dance floor like the Latin dancer I've always wanted to be, they'd take my clumsy, stubby feet tripping gracefully down the most mysterious highways and byways in search of adventure. They'd make me look tall and elegant; they'd let me float like a cloud, like an Italian senorita, they'd make my every step fascinating. New York sidewalks. Thailand country roads. Tibetan plateaus. They'd transport me to places beyond Oz - click 3 times, Dorothy, and you're not in Kansas anymore.
These shoes would embody my dreams, my hopes, every yearning step I want to take to a better something, a better somewhere. Maybe over a rainbow, down the next raincloud, tap-dancing on a star, tango-ing on a dewdrop. Standing on tiptoe to kiss my beloved in the middle of a scarlet, cat-fur-soft rose. Take me here, to another tender memory, take me there to my grandmother's bedside before she died, take me forward to my wedding (will there be one?)
For now though - I'll settle for a pair of sturdy, comfortable boots to go tromping through the rain, to keep my feet warm. Splash through a puddle, jump over a stream, hopscotch like a zany little girl again.
When dreams are far away, feet that don't hurt and soothing shoes are one tiny step closer to heaven-in-the-real-world.