He gave me these boots as a early Christmas present. He had a huge smile on his face as he handed me the perfectly wrapped box with a giant red bow on top. I've never been great at giving presents and feel a lot of pressure to try to meet the expectations of someone who is giving me a gift, so I was a little nervous about what was inside.
I wonder to myself, do they want something big? Are they going to spend a lot of money? Do I need to? If it is a new relationship, is the present going to mean too much? Will it scare them off? Will it be unappreciated?
I once had a weekend getaway for Valentine's Day that I was holding on to for my boyfriend at the time, just in case he gave me something big that I needed to match. He gave me a card and told me at dinner his brothers had put a wager down on how long we would last. I gave him the getaway to prove them wrong. I think we lasted longer than the wager, but in the end it still ended.
But this bright red box had sparkles on it that matched the ones in his eyes, he was proud to give this to me. I had ordered him a leather bound journal with his initial engraved. I didn't spend too much and that's one of those gifts that I wouldn't have regretted gifting him later. Unlike the massage I bought him for Valentine's Day, but I kept it when he came by one day while I was at work to pick up his things not too long after that. You can see where this is going, can't you?
We were standing in the front room of my parents house exchanging our gifts before he headed back to Houston to spend the holiday with his family. The anticipation and proud look on his face made me think he was sure he did good. I ripped open the paper and flipped open the box to reveal a brand new pair of cowboy boots, with hearts and crosses embroidered on them and all.
Here is my history of cowboy boots. I bought a pair for $35 on Thanksgiving about 10 years before in San Angelo, TX. I loved these boots. They had a square toe, light brown leather, I have no idea why they were so cheap. Perhaps they were used, I can't remember. But I adored them. I even brought them with me when I moved to Santiago, Chile, to make sure everyone would know I was from Texas. In a rain storm one night I realized the soles had worn through. The boyfriend with the wager knew a shoe doctor and took them in for me. What he returned to me was a pair of boots that had received a terrible facelift. Like bad botox for leather, the square toe was somehow round, the new soles lifted me up half an inch and were white beneath a light brown leather boot. I was heartbroken, my favorite pair of boots with a history were no longer the same. But I had a friend who liked them so I gifted my boots from Texas, remade in Chile to a friend from Ireland. To me, it was a lovely ending.
So I bought myself a new pair of boots the next time I was in Texas. They weren't great, they zipped up the side and with my wide calves, often slipped down and gathered part way around the ankle. This Cowboy that was standing in front of me with a new pair of boots, hated them, told me they weren't worth coming onto his ranch. So he gave me boots with a square toe, good, a worn leather look, good, and embroidery. Nothing, absolutely nothing about me says embroidery. But he was elated, and therefore, so was I. I smiled from ear to ear and told him I loved them and I was grateful. And I was grateful, they weren't my style, but that was okay, he was so excited, who was I to tell him. I wore them around him, I strapped spurs to the back of them when we went riding horses, I was dressing up to fit into his world.
And just like that, just a few months after ripping open that paper, he left my world. Never to be heard from or seen again. I wish I could give you more to that story, once the memoir comes out you will see the more, but for timing here today, just know, that one day there were two people in love and one day it was like it never happened.
However, these boots were what was left of him. I don't like to throw good things out, especially if I knew they were worth something, so about 8 months after he disappeared, I dug them out of my closet and put them up for sale online. I got a few questionable interests, but nothing panned out. So back they went into the closet, never to be worn again, just collecting dust.
Then the pandemic happened. I say these boots were in the back of my closet, but my shoe closet is only about 1.5 feet deep so when the doors were open, I could see them, even when I trained my eyes not to look into that general direction. But they were there, staring at me, having not been worn since March 2018, collecting dust, sitting in a cloud of negative energy. So finally, as I was cleaning out my house one day, my closet of clothes, letting go of things that no longer fit and that I didn't wear, that were in good enough condition to give away, I looked over and saw those boots. I told myself now was the time.
Into the Goodwill bag they went. Into someone's life who would want them, who would be excited to find a lightly used pair of expensive boots in a thrift shop one day and would wear the embroidery because she loved the symbolism, not because she wanted approval and someone to love her.
I gift myself these days. I am always grateful for the thoughtfulness of others to go out of their way to gift me something they think I will enjoy. Have you ever wondered how many times you have given someone a gift that the intention is more for your joy than it is for theirs? How many gifts have been sold, trashed or donated because we didn't care to think what the other person might want, need or like? I think it is a sign, really - that one person was willing to step out of their comfort zone of Birkenstock's or zip up the side boots and into an uncomfortable pair with embroidery and spurs for the happiness of someone else who ended up using their boots to walk out of my life.
Getting them out of my house was releasing a negative energy I didn't realize I was still holding on to. I had long since let go of him and us and gotten over the hurt, but those were taking space in a place where they didn't fit in, and donating them freed me of every last memento of us and damn, did that feel good. Anything you are holding onto that needs to be released today?