Heels to DIE for
Monica Kim (+Video)
Borrowing a pair of my glamourous mum’s golden high heels one day, I fell down the stairs and ended up in hospital. Later, as a young woman working in Korea, still crazy for shoes, I fell off my teetering heels, fractured my ankle—and landed back in hospital. After that second accident, I realized there were things a lot more important than high heels, although they make wonderful memories.
Every little girl looks up to her mother. My mom was beautiful and especially stylish. She was an actress in her twenties. She met my father, a director for South Korea’s national public broadcaster, at the KBS new actors’ orientation. They fell in love, and my mother chose my father over a career in acting. She doesn’t regret her decision, but she sometimes misses the old days.
Her closet was full of many elegant pointy high heels. I never saw my mom wear other shoes. She wore stilettos for dining out, family dinners, or hanging out with her friends—they were her everyday shoes. Even when I was a toddler, I loved her shoes. But my mom always hid her treasures on the highest rack in her closet. Still, my desire for heels grew bigger. One summer day, when I was four, I checked on my grandma—safely cooking in the kitchen—and pulled up the chair in front of the shoe racks. My little hands reached up to a pair of golden high heels, and I put them on.
“These are fantastic! I will never take these shoes off!”
When I heard Grandma calling me for dinner, I escaped outside. At the end of the garden was a stairway to the rooftop, where my sister and I had our secret hideout. My poor granny looked for me everywhere. Finally, she went to the rooftop. She yelled, “What are you doing here? Take those off right now!”
I forgot I was wearing very big shoes. I ran away—and missed a step—and tumbled all the way down the stairs into the garden, still in Mom’s high heels.
I awoke in the emergency room. I could hear my mom scolding my grandma and my sister beside me, crying because she thought I was dying. Luckily my brain had no damage, but my mom’s golden high heels disappeared from the shoe closet forever.
At university, my passion for shoes continued. At every sale, I ran to the shoe department and bought more. My mom nagged at me, “You are like Imelda Marcos! You must save money for your future.” My shoe love only grew. I always wore high heels to work, though they gave me many blisters. Each night I swore no more! But the next morning, I chose high heels again.
One morning, running to a very important meeting with clients, I suddenly felt my body floating in the air. My beautiful 6-inch heel had got stuck in a manhole cover. I landed with a bump in the middle of the street. My handbag flew open, and all my stuff was scattered—but the worst thing was, my heel was broken. I had terrible pain in my left ankle, but I was most heartbroken about my shoes. I had only worn them twice!
At Emergency, my first question was- when could I wear high heels again? Glancing woefully at my swollen left ankle, the doctor said the bone was fractured and must be in a cast for six weeks. After that, it was crutches for three months, and I must NEVER wear high heels. I was devastated. Giving up my stilettos would destroy my self-esteem. I believed my heels turned me from an immature girl into a sexy career woman.
However, it did happen that, little by little, my interest changed from high heels after my child was born to mid-height heels and then to flat shoes. Now I wear running shoes on the treadmill; I enjoy the beautiful Rockies in my hiking boots; I put on clunky ski boots to go flying over the snow. I gave up my childish obsession with how other people see me—when I was ready to enjoy life. But I keep my golden high heels deep in the corner of my closet, with my childhood memories and my beautiful young mother’s glamour.
MONICA KIM moved to Banff from Seoul four years ago to be with her husband. They first met 27 years ago, and after 22 years apart, they reconnected and fell in love. A professional graphic designer, Monica has actively engaged in her new community from the start. She has taken ESL classes, volunteered for the Bow Valley Christmas Campaign, and designed the learner publication in the last four years for the Bow Valley Literacy Program. Before moving to Canada, Monica lived in the US, Sweden, and China.