I’ve been doing a lot of closet clearing these days. It is a ritual I have done every year since I can remember from Thanksgiving through New Year’s to start fresh. There are a few things that while I may not wear them anymore they have a special meaning for me. When I was in my basement walk-in I took a look at these again and thought about the guy I was married to for close to half my life.
Mark and I as a couple were less likely to go shopping than roller-skating, biking, hiking, dancing or beach-walking. Mark enjoyed being outside, the beauty of nature, the challenge of a steep hill with city buses whizzing by or the mystery of why sea-birds all face the same way as the wind blows together by species just hanging out there on the sand.
So it was an unusual evening that we spent in what used to be Abraham and Straus in downtown Brooklyn a few weeks before we were to be married in 1986. Mark had a soft blue two piece storm coat, it had a short under -jacket, the sleeves zipped off to become a vest and a longer over jacket and a nice roomy hood, the label inside said Bruce Jenner for SIM.
Mark knew how to pick well-made, practical and good looking clothes and this storm coat was just that but it lacked a little panache for me.
As his soon-to be new bride I thought it might be time for a more “updated” look, not to get rid of the Bruce Jenner (as we called it) but to have something a little more “spiffy” like a bomber jacket that while still practical, looked a little more stylish. More in vogue.
Mark was one to buy the best that he could afford, preferably on sale so he could get an even better brand, but mostly he preferred to get things for others rather than for himself.
On this particular evening 26 years ago, we got into Mark’s shiny blue Chevy Malibu, a perfect car for a guy who drove everyday to East New York, Brooklyn to his job as a school principal, from our (then) apartment in Park Slope, Brooklyn to Downtown Brooklyn to A&S.
Strolling though A&S we passed the women’s shoe department and right away Mark could see my eyes glaze over, I was mesmerized by the shoes.
“Do you want to look in here?” Mark asked me.
“Oh, no, we are here to find you a new jacket, this isn’t about me.” I said. I could feel the magnetic pull of the shoes as I walked into the department on aut0-pilot and starting browsing. Somehow magically I found myself seated trying on shoes and modeling them for a bemused Mark.
I tried on a pair of red suede ghille pumps with a Louis heel, “I like those a lot on you, how do they feel?” Mark asked.
They felt great. “Why don’t you get them and what about those shoes that look like cars, those are kind of a fun shoe don’t you think?”
Within a few minutes Mark and I left the shoe department with 3 pairs of brand new shoes for me. And oh, yes he did get a new khaki bomber jacket that he looked very handsome wearing.
Mark would have bought me the whole shoe department if that would have made me happy. (And why not, everything was 25 %0ff. )
That’s how it went for 26 years. Mark gave me all that I wanted (lucky him I didn’t need a Rolls Royce) but the heart of the matter is this.
It wasn’t about the things he gave me, it was about the life he gave me. Like the shoes that we got that night which in hindsight was a clue to what kind of husband he would be. Generous. Thoughtful. Open. Fun to be with. Patient.
Mark gave me all that I needed to become the person I wanted to be. And I still have the shoes we bought that night the red suede Louis heels still look fabulous and I always get compliments when I wear them.
To me those shoes and the memory of how I got them are treasure from a moment in time that said so much about the man I was about to marry.