The first abandoned shoes I ever noticed were in San Francisco in 2014. They evoke thoughts of a young woman out clubbing, taking off her high heeled sandals because her feet hurt after a long night dancing. It’s been so long since she’s had so much fun. It was girls’ night, and she’s a little more than tipsy but not full on drunk. She’s been arguing a lot with her boyfriend lately, which is why she needed this girls’ night so badly. Her friends are still dancing, but she’s tired and just wants to go home so she texts her boyfriend, knowing he’ll pick her up even though things are a bit tense between them right now. She rests her shoes on an empty planter and sits on the curb while she waits, but the reply she gets from her boyfriend is a bit odd. “You up for it?” he asks. Up for what, she wonders. A few moments later he texts again to say he’s sorry but can’t pick her up because he’s drunk and chilling with the boys. But she remembers that he specifically said he wasn’t going to go out tonight.
She doesn’t want to be “that girl”, the one who suspects her boyfriend of cheating, but something feels wrong. She hurriedly calls an uber and rushes home. It is half way through the ride before she realizes she’s forgotten her sandals on the giant planter outside the club and she has to make a quick decision. Will she turn back in the hopes that her shoes are still there, or will she keep heading home in the hopes of catching her boyfriend red-handed. She chooses, of course, to go home, and hops along the corridors of her apartment building on the balls of her feet, trying not to catch whatever diseases are incubating on the peeling linoleum of these floors that probably haven’t been washed since 1973. Why does she even live in such an old, decrepit apartment? She can afford better. It’s her boyfriend who can’t. He works as a busker, and a sometimes waiter, when he deigns to show up for his shifts, while she makes a respectable living a s freelance graphic designer.
She opens the door to her apartment quietly, trying not to jingle her keys, hoping to find him in flagrante on the sofa, or perhaps even the kitchen floor, but mostly likely in their bed. But he’s not home. The place is dark, and empty. This means nothing, and he’s probably at his side-piece’s place right now!
But why is she so sure he’s cheating? And why was she so eager for confirmation? Why does she feel so disappointed? She knows now what she must do. Even if he isn’t cheating, she needs to break up with him. She’s just looking for excuses to get rid of him, but she shouldn’t need an excuse. If she doesn’t love him, she should end it.
She takes a shower, making sure to exfoliate her blackened feet, and wraps herself in her coziest pajamas. She pulls out her boyfriend pro/con list from its hiding place and adds “don’t love him anymore” to the con list, right under “he might be cheating”. On the pro side of the list is “hot”, and “plays guitar”, which she’d penned when he first moved in. The con side is much longer, and has spilled over onto a second page. How long will it need to get before she actually bites the bullet, and makes a change? After all, she began this list six years ago.