These Boots Are Made for Walking


I bought my first pair of cowboy boots in the seventh grade. It was 1980, the year “Urban Cowboy” was released, and western boots were a must for any budding fashionista. I saved for weeks to buy those boots, hoarding my allowance and babysitting, which I hated, to earn extra cash. My stepmother said I had champagne taste and a beer budget. Being only 12, I didn’t understand what that meant. All I knew was that the fawn-colored pigskin suede boots with white leather flowers cost $75, and I had to have them.

Thirty some years later, I still remember how proud I was when I plucked those boots off the shelf at the Scott Colburn western store in Livonia, Michigan, and handed my money to the cashier. They were a symbol of my individuality and confidence, and I wore the hell out of them. I wore them with leg warmers and prairie skirts; I tucked my jeans into them. I wore them till they needed new soles and were beyond out of style. And then one day I packed them away on a closet shelf and forgot them.

The Southern road trip my family took last week made me remember those long-lost boots and the strong, self-assured girl who wore them. After a lengthy monologue in which I ruminated over situations I cannot control, my husband set me straight in the lobby bar of the Peabody Hotel. “It’s a big world,” he said. “If you don’t like who’s in that corner of it, move to a different one.” What we don’t want to hear is often what needs to be said most. He was right: It was time to dust off my self-confidence and stop being a victim.

As we wandered down Broadway in Nashville a few afternoons later, I found myself as drawn to the western stores as the honky-tonks. I tried on boot after boot, but the perfect pair eluded me. The next day, an hour before we left town, I headed back to the first store we had visited to try on the boots I liked most. The fit wasn’t right, and the toes were too square. Disappointed, I looked for a larger size and noticed a pair I hadn’t seen the day before. They were exactly what I wanted: black, distressed leather with low heels and sharply pointed toes. They fit perfectly.

I wore my new boots out of the store and on the drive home from Nashville, and I have been wearing them ever since — to a party, to the grocery store, even in the carpool line at school. When I look down at them, I feel a wave of pleasure and pride. Like the flowered pair I bought in seventh grade, my new boots are a symbol of my individuality and confidence. But more important, they remind me of the much-needed earful I got in Memphis and my decision to leave my blues there, where they belong.

74 thoughts on “These Boots Are Made for Walking

  1. It’s amazing what a pair of shoes can represent, isn’t it? I love that you found these boots at the very end of your trip, and I love that you have been wearing them ever since, proud of what they mean, and what they say to you.

    • Thanks, Samantha. It really is wild, isn’t it, that a pair of shoes can mean so much? It’s definitely a female thing. My husband was laughing at me for being so excited about my new boots.

  2. My hubby is so good at that too… Giving the kind of advice that seems harsh or even heartless, but that really is what I need to hear. It’s honest and simple, just like the advice from your husband. Congrats on the boots and the newfound confidence in life. Both sure seem to suit you well. 😉

    • Thanks, Laura. I don’t know what I would do without my husband to keep me (somewhat) sane and grounded. Seriously. Happy to hear you have the same with yours.

  3. Hooray for boots! I didn’t have any (in CA) before I moved to the East Coast and now I can’t get enough! I have yet to add cowboy boots to my collection. Glad you found your happy boots and left your blues behind 🙂

  4. Haha I was in grade 8 in 1980 also I remember the urban cowboy when john travolta was cool the first time. ahhh memories. I feel like there is allot packed into this sentence “After a lengthy monologue in which I ruminated over situations I cannot control” I have those monologues that date back to the 80s also 🙂 Good post.

    • Thanks, Sam.

      Oh, the ’80s. I watched “The Breakfast Club” a few weeks ago with my almost 14-year-old. Timeless film — unlike my Aquanet-infused hairdos of the day.

  5. Hell, yes! You can kick some serious ass in those gor-ge-ous boots! Love the strong, confident “hear me roar” voice of this post. Such strong writing and point of view. Gotta love your husband and his wisdom – you married a wise man, indeed. What a post!

    • Thanks so much, Mary. I am lucky to have a husband who knows how to set me straight and loves me enough to do it. I tend to get trapped in my own head. He helps me get out.

  6. A fragrance, a song, or even a pair of boots can trigger a memory and reinvigorate us to take action.

  7. I love Bud & Sissy.

    Your husband is a smart man.

    Your boots are perfection.

    Glad you are strutting your stuff again.

    • Thanks, Robbie. I wish I could be more like my husband and not be so affected by others’ actions. That trait gives you power. I’m working on it.

  8. So great–I love how you connected your boots to your lost confidence. I had a beloved pair of cowboy boots from that same time period. I wore them until a heel was ground down to nothing.

    • Thanks, Marcy. There’s just something about cowboy boots, isn’t there? I have lots of other boots, but none means as much as the pair from seventh grade or the one I just bought.

  9. Oh girl, I am addicted to boots, and so glad you found the perfect pair. They’re the best way to put a little sass back in your strut. Happy for you, and love the way you told the story. 😉

  10. I loved this story and those are fantastic boots! So crazy, because I did the same thing at about that age during the Urban Cowboy phenomenon. Saved and saved for a pair of tan Dingo boots that I wore all the time. Got mine at Martin’s shoe store and I mean I dropped dollar bills and handfuls of change on the counter. All babysitting money and allowance – yep. Great story, beautifully told and it brought back a fond memory!

    • Thanks, Linda! Love, love, love your boot story. We are footwear kindred souls. Do you still have yours? I have no clue what happened to mine. Bummer.

  11. You told a great story. I loved your husband’s advice. I’m glad you got your confident perspective back. The boots are icing on the cake.

    • Me too. I haven’t connected strongly with an item of clothing or shoes in a long time. I think that has something to do with motherhood: I rarely indulge myself like this. I guess I should do it more often because it feels freaking fantastic!

    • Thanks for suggesting it, Bee. I was leaning against it because it’s a busy week and I didn’t think I would have time to read. I’m glad I made time.

  12. It’s amazing what a pair of shoes can do for your soul. I’m not a shoe person myself, but I’ve seen the results for shoe people with my own eyes and I totally get it.

  13. Fabulous boots!

    I still kick around in my beat-up pair of Justin’s…and my Shady Brady. For a while, I get to not be…me. And I like it!

    Great story!

  14. First, HOT BOOTS. Love them!!!! Second, I loved this post to bits. The back story, the harsh truth that sucks to hear, and the boots that are so much more than boots. Wow, girl. Nicely done.

  15. As soon as I read the title of your post ‘These boots are meant for walking’ and then saw the picture below, I was sold! And absolutely love what your stepmother said to you – I had champagne taste and a beer budget. It’s amazing how the boots defined your individuality and still do. Great post. 🙂

    • Thanks so much! I still have champagne taste, but with kids, I don’t often indulge myself. It was fun to go for it and buy something for me for a change.

  16. I loved your story! Sometimes its not just about the things but also about what they represent to us. I recently let my friend cut my hair. I had really long hair and now it’s super short. She had never done it before and was just so excited! I now roam around with unevenly cut hair and a grand story of our friendship to tell!

    • That is awesome! Sounds like you and your friend have a great relationship. You must trust her to pieces. That’s way cooler than any silly old pair of boots.

  17. I love this. What a great full circle tale. Its amazing what an article le of clothing can represent. And looove those boots!

  18. I have a pair of boots I love! I have people in my life who care about me enough to remind md when I need an attitude adjustment! Great post!

  19. Shoes do make the woman. For me, it is a pair black pumps. At my age, wearing heels is an accomplishment but your legs are the last thing you lose. Sounds like you got a good pair of boots. Made me want a pair.

    • I agree, Ann. There is definitely something to be said for a great pair of black pumps. They make you feel sophisticated, polished. You should try some boots, though, too. You might enjoy the different attitude they give you. I know I do!

  20. Finding the perfect pair of boots is such a confidence booster, isn’t it? And perfect timing for your new outlook. That’s some good advice your husband gave you.

  21. Hell YES – I love this! Those boot ARE made for walking, and strutting, and kicking ass and being you. Friends tell you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear. I liked you saying the same thing a different way. Honesty rules. Even when it beats your ass a little. We’re gonna be fast friends I can tell. You have my vote : )

  22. This is a great post with a fantastic ending. I felt kind of socked in the gut, but in the best way. I may have also said “hell yeah” but that’s between me and the cat.

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