If the shoe I’d ordered from Nordstrom’s Single Shoe Program didn’t arrive soon, I wouldn’t need it. In early September, days after I broke the fifth metatarsal on my right foot, I’d called Nordstrom and arranged for the delivery of a size 39 black and grey Dansko clog.
It was surely optimistic thinking to suppose I might not need the shoe by the time it arrived, considering the healing process seemed to be taking longer than anticipated. It didn’t help that I’d inadvertently put pressure on the fracture sometime in the early weeks; the x-ray after four weeks showed the bone had moved farther apart than when originally fractured.
As the weeks dragged on and I began to wean myself off crutches, having a left shoe the same height as the wretched boot I had strapped onto my right foot became more critical for balance. Other than the silver strappy sandal I wore to my son’s wedding in summer, the only other shoes I possessed with any elevation were a pair of buff colored boots I’d purchased a couple of weeks before at the Eldorado Flea Market. It was a lucky find to be sure, but now the left one was my only wearable shoe. Not only did I tire of wearing the shoe with everything, the beige suede showed wear and looked dingy, and I was starting to feel the points of nails poking into my heel through the thin sole.
Admittedly, the Nordstrom shoe arrived promptly, but it was the wrong size, a 38, and no amount of jamming my foot into the opening proved successful, so back it went. The return required communication from many parties, which complicated a simple process and caused endless delay.
I thrilled the woman who filled out the return form over the phone for me.
“The Single Shoe Return Form is the only form I’ve never filled out,” she practically squealed. She composed herself, no doubt out of respect for the occasion and said more calmly, “You don’t get to do that every day. Now I can say I’ve filled out every form at Nordstrom. You made my day!”
I’d been trying to practice patience, with limited success, but I caught myself grousing about my situation to my friend Deb, a former neighbor visiting from Knoxville. She’d been chauffeuring me around all day. We had one more stop at the grocery when we veered off course for a fun detour into Nina’s Closet, the consignment store in the Agora Shopping Center. Ana, the owner, asked if we were looking for anything in particular. I told her I was looking for a pair of shoes the same height as my boot. She sat me down on a tufted stool in the corner of the shoe section and began bringing shoes for me to try on.
“Just like the old days when the shopkeeper served the customer,” I told Deb as she meandered through the racks of colorful skirts and jackets. I mentioned I’d been looking for a pair of cowboy boots and Ana brought over a pair with white lilies stitched onto black leather, perfect granny boots for my upcoming role as a soon-to-be first-time grandmother of a girl, due in December. Our son and his wife had just settled on the name—Lily.
I walked back and forth, testing the comfort and the fit of the left lily boot. It felt a tad too high to wear comfortably with the orthopedic boot.
“A Dansko would be the perfect height,” I told Ana. She pulled out a pair of Dansko wedges that were also too tall. I told her the story of waiting for the single shoe from Nordstrom when I saw something click in her expression.
“Wait a minute!” She lifted her forefinger with an air of surprise and determination and seemed to follow her pointed finger as it led her into the closet. I heard sounds of boxes shuffling and paper rustling as she rummaged around in search of something.
“I think it’s in here,” she called out to me. “I’m sure I saw it in here the other day. Hmmm. Where is it?”
I heard more shuffling, then, “Yes! You’ll never believe it!”
She emerged from the closet smiling broadly, holding a single shoe in her hand, a black and white faux zebra fur Dansko clog.
“What size?” she asked, checking with me to confirm as she held the shoe up to the light and peered inside.
“39,” I said.
“Yep. What foot?”
“Left foot,” I said.
“Here it is—a left shoe, size 39, Dansko clog!”
I beheld the shoe, admiring it for the miracle it was. Seemingly materialized from Nina’s magic closet, the shoe appeared tailor-made for me—the size, the style, the height, the whimsy, the comfort, the timing. I slipped it on and just like Cinderella, the shoe fit perfectly.
“A woman from California, an amputee came into my store last summer and bought this pair of clogs,” Ana explained. “She only needed the right shoe, so she asked me to throw away the left shoe or give it to someone who might need it. I don’t know why I kept it,” she said, shaking her head in amazement, “but I’ve had it for almost a year, waiting…” she trailed off.
“Waiting for me,” I said.
“I’ve already been paid for the shoes,” Ana said, handing me the clog. “This is a gift.”
I bought the lily boots to wear when my foot finally heals. Deb bought a handmade silver necklace and a vintage beaded bag. I thanked Ana for her kindness, and left with the cherished zebra clog.
“Things like this happened to you in Knoxville,” Deb said once we got into the car. “And now they’re happening for you in Santa Fe, too. You’re making connections. That shoe was waiting here for you.”
I marveled in silence over what had transpired and stared out the car window at the sunset and mountain peaks, the landscape of my new home. Walking up the path to the front door, I saw the box with the Nordstrom shoe waiting for me on the doorstep.