I no longer consciously consider my Divorce Boots as being ”divorce boots”. At the time they were a constant reminder of my gift to me celebrating my new life free from the weight of lies and betrayal and the liberation from allowing someone else’s choices to affect me. For a girl who loves boots, there was no better way to celebrate kicking a guy to the curb than to buy an honest-to-god, kick-ass pair of authentic cowboy boots. I spent hours searching for just the right pair. Finally I found them although sometimes I think they found me.
They’re just boots. Without a doubt they are gorgeous but still, they’re just boots. The fact that they have hand-sewn pink flowers with delicate green leaves stitched all over them make them special, but it’s neither that nor the well-worn leather, the intricate side stitching or even the way the pointy toe fits just so. It’s all about the energy and the fact that they signify my freedom, strength, courage, independence and pure joy. It matters not that people don’t know who I am; strangers on the street, in parking lots, airports and stores approach me over and over to comment on my boots. I’ve worn them hundreds of times and I have yet to even run a quick errand that someone hasn’t commented on them.
I realize now, it’s not the boots. As great as they are, it’s the energy. They came from a boot store in Austin, Texas. A town I now call home although I didn’t at the time and I had no idea when I ordered the boots online that someday I’d be living in the same place they were from. Lyle Lovett told me I wear my boots well and since then I’ve received the same Texas-style compliment from dozens of people. They inspired someone to write a poem, and someone else to ask me out on a date because as he later said, “Those boots told me I wanted to get to know you better”, a little girl asked to touch the hand-sewn flowers while her mother asked, “Where did you get them?” And still I’m convinced it has nothing to do with the boots and everything to do with what they signify.
And so it happened as I was preparing to go to a house concert, I decided to wear the boots. House concerts, an off-the-grid, all-but-undiscovered phenomenon in Austin, are like a throw-back to a simpler time. People open their homes to strangers who come in, share food and drinks and listen to musicians play world-class music in their living rooms. For free. Just because. It happens all the time in Austin, in houses, backyards and living rooms…and it’s one of my favorite things.
As my friend and I got comfortable on a sofa, a woman I didn’t know sat down beside me, took a sip of her drink and leaned over to me and said, “Honey, you are rockin’ those boots.” I laughed and for the first time in a long time explained they were in fact my Divorce Boots. She immediately replied, “Oh good for you girl, these are my Divorce Lips”. Our laughter emanated across the living room as the two musicians standing by the fireplace began to tinker with and tune their instruments. Our private conversation became public in the intimate setting and within a moment the incredibly talented yet amazingly humble guitar player began to share his story about finding his freedom and joked at the irony of his reliance on his “Hillbilly Crutch” in order to play it. The group immediately encouraged him to start off his set with the song and so he turned and put the Hillbilly Crutch in place.
A Capo is a device that (some) musicians use on their guitars and banjos to raise the pitch – something I knew nothing about before living in the Live Music Capital of the World yet am quite familiar with now. The musicians who happened to be playing for us that evening referred to a Capo as a Hillbilly Crutch since the device makes it easy to play higher pitches without having to stop and re-tune the strings to the higher pitch. Like so many things, there are divided opinions among those Austin musicians who use them and those who don’t – some say crutch, some say useful tool. A well-known joke in Austin is in Nashville, Capo’s are so highly regarded that musicians get free parking for simply placing them on their dashboard.
Regardless of ones opinion of the Capo, the gift that evening among the small group of strangers was the rewarding discovery that we all share common bonds. Clearly everyone in that room could relate to going through a struggle and taking the steps to overcome it and come out better than before. When we are fortunate enough to discover our bonds, it is our duty to celebrate and spread joy.
That night we did just that with Divorce Boots, Divorce Lips and a couple of Hillbilly Crutches.
Thanks for reading,