When I first moved to NY I lived with a 93-year-old French woman on the Upper West Side (which is a story in and of itself, but for another time). 77th/Amsterdam to be exact. Moving from a small town in SW Colorado to THE UWS I thought I was THE_SHIT. No - I knew it. I WAS the shit. I walked around with a confidence only a move across the country alone can bring you. I rocked it and locked it.
I didn't have money, but I had a lot of free time. I was a nanny for a few fancy-pants families on the UWS who would sometimes say things like, "are you losing weight or do you just wear ill-fitting pants?" (the latter) I didn't care - I was awesome and they were giving me money to eat their snacks. Oh, and watch their kids. Life was good. One of my favorite free activities in NY was walking. Walking for hours and hours just exploring the city and feeling awesome. I probably stuck out like a sore thumb (I distinctly remember going to an audition in jean overalls), but I felt like I fit right in. My story helped to make up this rich tapestry that is NYC or some shit like that and I was damn proud to say I lived in NY. Walking was a harmless pastime, but was on one of these walks that I experienced something I had never felt before and will hopefully never again.
Let me first say - piggybacking off the overalls comment (not that there's anything wrong with overalls, btw. wait what am I saying yes there is. no one should wear them over the age of 6.) I need to address what my wardrobe consisted of at that time. Durango, CO, though great in a lot of ways, was no mecca of shopping. Our mall (which we nicknamed the Durango "Hall" because you could see from one end to the other) had Payless for sheos and Maurice's for tops and a pretzel stand in-between. It worked for Durango where jeans, a tee and birks are considered dressy, but in NY it just ain't the same. Or that's what I thought upon moving here. Regardless, I moved to NY with 5 bags of clothing and shoes made from the finest of synthetic materials.
One fine Summer day, and it was indeed Summer - I had never felt the kind of humidity NY had to offer - I had an audition. For a school. An ACTING school. Fancy pants! I was frickin' excited as balls, y'allz. I had prepared, studied, practiced, I was ready to knock them on their fat butts and become the next Meredith Berney Baxter. I also decided, because I was so new to NY, to walk to the audition. I had yet to use the subway (fear) and couldn't afford a cab (rent) and was tired of taking buses (old people) so I decided the best idea was to walk to my audition. Besides, it wasn't until 1pm or so, so I had time to saunter down and explore new parts of the city. And so, after donning my fanciest clothes and my most comfortable yet flattering (Payless*) shoes, I set off.
*And I'm not talking current-day Payless shoes, either. I'm talking 1998 plastic shoes so cheap even your dog won't chew on them. CHEAP.
As I mentioned, it was sweltering. About 20 blocks into my journey two things were made clear to me - 1) That I should have worn different shoes and 2) that I should have chosen a different mode of transportation. Because you see, friends, my heels were starting to blister and it effing HURT. Because you see, friends, my shoes were not leather as I had assumed (the "leather" loafers part threw me off), they were plastic. And friends, because it was the middle of Summer I was not wearing tights - just a skirt, my bare feet and plastic Payless loafers. The pain was bad. Really bad. But I had no idea it would get so much worse.
I looked at my watch and had an hour until my audition so I slowed my pace. The burn only worsened with each slow step. I tried to push my foot as far forward in the shoe to allow a little less rub room on my heels, but the shoes were pretty snug and I'm also pretty sure my feet were swelling from a mixture of heat and PURE UNCUT PAIN. And so I sat for a minute but did not take off my shoes. I was afraid to look. I was afraid if I took them off it would be like stopping a 22 mile run right in the middle - I'd just plain give up. (Yeah right like I know what running 22 miles feels like.) So I sat for a minute, looked at my empty wallet, and after a few minutes continued my walk of doom.
I continued on like that, starting and stopping, for the next 20 minutes or so... or so I thought. Turns out it was more like 35 minutes and I had 25 minutes to get to my big break of an audition. I had to jam on it, dudes. So I started walking faster. It wasn't so bad at that point seeing as my feet were all but numb, but then something terrible happened. The blisters - they popped. Yes, my water broke and I'm pretty sure the look on my face screamed PANIC as I waited for the tiny heel-babies to come out of my feet. Not one to give up - I continued on.
"Bandaids," I thought. "I need bandaids."
I told myself I'd get them once I got nearer the audition. It was my carrot hanging in front of my face motivating me to go on, little donkey. Besides, the blisters had popped, I wasn't in any pain so the worst of it was probably over, right?
OH MY GOD SO WRONG.
Because then, you see friends, THEN my blisters - the one that had already burst inside my $9.99 Payless death traps - THEY RE-BLISTERED.
You heard me right. They re-flippin'-blistered and my eyes welled up with tears. A panic came over me that if I didn't soon get these "shoes" off they would adhere to my feet and I'd never get them off. I was pretty sure with each rub the shoes were becoming part of my foot and vice versa. And yet - I was still walking. Walking to meet my destiny and become the next Tiffany Amber Theisen.
At this point I only had something like 10 minutes left and 10 blocks to go (don't check my math on this one - it was like 80 years ago) so I ran into Duane Read, spent money I didn't have on bandaids I knew would do no good, and ran into the school with minutes to spare.
The outfit I had so carefully ironed and picked out with loving attention to detail (I was wearing a Summer scarf) was dirty, limp and soaked in sweat. The hair I had gotten up early to blow dry when it was cooler out so the heat wouldn't ruin my 'do, had fallen. My makeup ran, my eyes were red from holding back tears but nothing compared to the monster madness coming from my feet.
I didn't even have the strength to find the bathroom. I sat down away from the other very put-together auditioners, holding back tears and prepped myself to take the shoes off my feet. Slowly, carefully I removed one foot at a time. The entire heel of my foot - and I do mean the ENTIRE HEEL (bottom of my foot included) had blistered. The bottom of my foot was still soft and squishy and hadn't poppped, but the back, the part moving up and down against that 10c plastic material, had not only blistered, re-blistered, but had popped again. I let out a whimper as I used an entire box of bandaids on my feet before trying desperately to squeeze them back in the worst shoes ever made.
I honestly don't remember my audition or how I got home. I'm pretty sure after squeezing my feet back in the shoes I blacked out but continued on with my day. That's the McMurray will, for ya. I do remember that I wasn't accepted into the school. In hindsight I'm pretty sure that it would have been a terrible experience for me. The blisters were probably there to ensure that I didn't get into the school and become the next Melissa Joan Heart.
Later that night back in my bedroom with a tiny view of the Empire State building I didn't sleep a wink. The throbbing in my feet was only comparable to when I had actually burned my foot in the 7th grade when I spilled boiling water on it. I remember lying there and thinking, between sobs, how lucky I was to have experienced this even though I would never have gone through it again for all the money in the world. How lucky for me to be in NY and have really worked like a true New Yorker for my goal. I felt awful but probably the best I'd felt in my entire life. I'm also pretty sure I had convinced myself I'd get into the school as justice for my shitty experience in getting there. Ah well - it's all for the best I say!
And now to don a comfortable pair of shoes that remind me of how hard I've worked to make it in NY.