Do you ever think to yourself, “Wow, me. Do less?” Sometimes I do. This was the case approximately four weeks ago, when I fractured the fourth and fifth toes on my right foot.
It was a Thursday afternoon, and I was having some fun while rehearsing for the show I had been working on at the time. The cast was doing a warmup, a quirky little movement exercise in which we took on the personae of ballerinas and interchangeably led each other in “dances” to classical music (if I remember correctly, we were moving to the Nutcracker Suite). In retrospect, I admit, I took all of this a little too far.
Much like Icarus, I overestimated my capacity to fly, in that I actually thought I could fly. Running around the rehearsal room and believing I was Misty Copeland or something, I launched myself into leap only to come crashing down onto the wood floor below. I’ve generally chalked this fall up to landing on my foot “the wrong way,” but in truth, I don’t really know what made this way of landing “wrong.” All I remember is that I heard a crunch, a noise assuring me that I hadn’t done something “right.” A half hour later I was sent home to ice my foot and elevate it. Two of my cast-mates carried me to the car, adding to the ridiculousness of it all.
As you can probably imagine, having fractured toes isn’t fun. However, in all honesty, it hasn’t been horrible. On the contrary, it’s been pretty good. Of course, I’m not as mobile as I would prefer and have the occasional toe pain. But my broken toes have taught me a lot about myself, particularly in the area of fashion.
You laugh, but it is true. Through my injury, I’ve learned a lot about my fashion sensibilities. This state of affairs is probably due to the fact that my fracture has necessitated the addition of various accessories to my everyday wardrobe.
The “accessories” that I speak of here refer to four items—crutches, a sandal, a cane, and a boot. Given to me with the medical purpose of helping me walk rather than enhancing my style, these accoutrements appeared to me initially as clunky eye sores, uncomplimentary to the clothes I wear on a daily basis and overpowering on my 4’11” build. However, as I got to know each “piece” individually, I gradually learned to appreciate their good qualities and, finally, embrace their, shall we say, clinical aesthetic into my own, shall we say, fashion.
The first look I adopted post-fracture featured the crutches and sandal given to me by the Middlesex Hospital ER. In all honesty, it was probably my least favorite look. Sure, the crutches were glistening and silver, and the clunky black sandal had a kind of retro quality that I could have definitely gotten behind in time. But at the end of the day they made me exhausted. While in their company, every movement I made added up to the most terrible upper body workout I have ever undergone. Considering all this physicality, my initial idea was to wear workout clothes always, but ultimately I decided that would signal defeat. So, I decided to dress my accessories up.
I wore, more or less, what I would wear normally: dresses, tights, leggings, and other such items that when combined appear comfortable but “put-together.” Then, I went a step further and, each day, jazzed up my sandal with a funky sock of some sort (my personal favorite was an aqua high sock with a pattern of beluga whales) that complemented whatever I was wearing.
Once I struck this balance, the crutches and sandal vibe grew, in my mind, to be less of nuisance. But still, I had no interest in holding onto them for long, especially as their novelty wore off. Fortunately enough, after going to a real orthopedist, I was provided with the tools I needed for look number 2: boot and cane.
As I settled into my second look, I began to explore asymmetry. In general, I am a fan of coordination. I love outfits with a color scheme and a balance of pattern and shape. However, with my new medical gear, achieving this ideal proved difficult. With a cane in my left hand, my walk became a hobble. The gargantuan black boot on my right foot only made matters worse, for it (a) rendered my new gate uneven and (b) was far more conspicuous than the ol’ clunky sandal. Soon, however, I learned to let go and embrace variety.
The cane, I soon realized, was jazzy and flashy in a Broadway kind of way. “Fosse was pigeon-toed,” I thought. “I can make this work.” In my own mind, at least, I became the Girl with a Cane, a phenomenon.
More recently, with spring in our midst, I have also begun to appreciate my boot. The onset of spring makes me most excited because of its promise of shorts and dress weather. Honestly and truly, there are few things I love more than flowy floral dresses and shorts that look like skirts, and come warm temperatures I wear both of these kinds of clothes often; my boot has only made this fondness grow. My boot is dark, heavy, overbearing. When worn with the light clothes I don so regularly nowadays, it appears out of place, but in a pretty delightful way. Much like a strange piece of contemporary sculpture in a suburban home, it becomes conspicuous, a conversation piece if you will. Though disrupting the harmony and coordination that I so enjoy in my regular dress, stark asymmetry existing between my boot and springtime garb is refreshing for a type A like me; rather than obsess over the big picture of my outfit, I stop, breathe, and enjoy each thing that I wear as an individual piece.
In about a week, I will return to the orthopedist and likely lose the boot I have come to love. One part of me is excited. I look forward to the greater ease of movement, getting back to running, matching shoes, etc. However, another, more sentimental part of me will miss the boot that taught me the importance of flexibility, adaptability, and a good sense of humor.