Photos by Erin Poppe and Nichole Finke
Her third word was shoes. Mama. Dada. Shoes. I should have known we were in trouble.
I blame it on my sisters who bought her adorable patent leather shoes and ruffled socks when she was a baby. They started the whole “collection”. And that’s what Nichole calls it. Her “collection.”
“Mom, some people collect stamps. You collect those rocks. Trust me, shoes are better. I mean, I don’t see you wearing your fossils.”
She has a point.
Of course it didn’t help when she went to work at a shoe store.
“Mom, you have got to see these boots. They are so sweet.”
“But I really needed those heels. I didn’t have any that were purple.”
It was okay when she was living at home. Nichole was a very tidy child. Her shoes were organized into racks and boxes. I tried not to think about how many she had.
“Mom, flip-flops do not count as shoes. And neither do tennis shoes. Well, unless they are Coach.”
Funny, but in my closet tennis shoes definitely count as shoes. As a matter of fact it is a lot easier to hunt fossils in tennis shoes than in sparkly high heels.
The real trauma came when it was time to go to college. Forty-seven pairs of shoes in a dorm room the size of - well, a shoebox.
“I can’t leave any of them at home. What if I need them? Besides they would miss me.”
“They are just shoes.”
“Mother! It’s a collection. I can’t break it up.”
We crammed them in. It was high heels floor to ceiling. Her roommate had three pairs of tennis shoes.
Soon Nichole was the college fashion consultant. She loaned out her shoes for first dates, formals and costume parties. Her shoes went on interviews, to funerals, weddings, and even the Big 12 Tournament. In addition to being the head of shoe central, she organized outfits, created hair styles and did make up.
“These girls need me!”
I wondered how all this time with shoes and fashion was going to fit in with her architecture studies. I mean she was supposed to be studying buildings, artists, and history. I was pretty sure there was not a course on Blahnik, Jimmy Choo, or Kate Spade.
I shouldn’t have worried.
“Mom, there is the most amazing program for architecture students. We get to go to Italy and study product design. I can spend an entire semester studying shoes!”
Who knows. Maybe someday Nichole really will have her own collection. CoCo’s Original Shoes. I guess I better clear out some space in my closet. I wonder if she will design a special pair of fossil hunting shoes. I could use a little glitter in my life.