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Sara Goldfarb Headshot

Why You Should Rock Climb in Ruby Red Slippers

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I recently stumbled upon the most beautiful, little white purse. It was the kind of purse that inspires you to concoct all manner of ludicrous justifications in order to feel a little less guilt on the inevitable splurge:

If I don't buy Starbucks for a month, I can totally get this purse.

Remember how I returned that dress last week that was just a little too baggy? I could've kept it, but I didn't -- and so this cost just replaces that one.

I got stuck doing all of the dishes the last four nights straight. Fact is, I earned this purse.

And the best part about this splurge-worthy, manna-from-heaven, adorable white purse? It was already hanging in my closet. You see, I came across this jaw-dropping gem approximately seven years ago. Seven years ago, I danced the justification tango, easily gliding myself from the shelf to the register, ending the number with a grand flourish as I whipped my plastic from my wallet and dipped it into the cashier's palm. I claimed that little beauty for my own, immensely satisfied with myself.

And when I got home, I carefully unwrapped it. I debated with myself over which feature was the most delectable. The smooth leather strap? The delicate and perfect seams? How to choose? Reeling in the perfection, I gently placed it on a high shelf in the closet, careful to avoid placing it next to a regular old brown or black purse that might somehow cast shadow on its elegance or -- horrors! -- scuff it.

And there it sat. For seven long years. At first, I resisted using it because there was simply no event as grand as it was, no outing quite worthy of its debut. After a while, I came to forget about it and on the odd occasion I was tempted to use it, the season or outfit wasn't exactly right. And then I forgot it existed all together. Seven years and two kids later, I came across the purse again. Why not use it now? Finally? There's only one problem.

I've completely outgrown it.

There's nothing in particular that's wrong with the purse. It's beautiful and unmarked, but it's, well... young. It looks like a purse someone in their late 20s might buy. Which is exactly what happened. I never contemplated then how drastically my taste could change in under a decade, but if I used this purse now? Frankly, I'd feel embarrassed. Like I was trying to hang with the kids. Trying to be just a little too fashionable.

And so the purse sits, unused. And I realize as I take stock in my closet, the purse isn't alone. Now I'm no hoarder by any stretch, but I was quickly able to tick off a myriad of other beloved items that were at one time deemed too delish for actual consumption.

And like most realizations that arrive at your doorstep unannounced, it made me contemplate the why. Why was I so afraid to enjoy the moment? Indulge the exquisite? Saving the best for last was a long-held personality trait. No tasting dessert before the meal. No skipping to a new good book when I haven't muddled through the boring one I'm reading. What did this delayed gratification get me in the end? Dessert I was too full to eat. Wasted hours on books that didn't deserve the time. And a gorgeous purse doomed to never see the light of day.

And so days later, when my eldest daughter stumbled on a pair of ruby red Dorothy high(ish) heel slippers we had bought online a year ago which ended up being too big, she -- of course -- asked to wear them. Kids don't possess the delayed gratification flaw. They want. They take. They use. And you know what? They're generally much happier than adults for it.

She and I played Cinderella -- holding our breaths while trying the shoe on her small foot. Would it fit? Would it be too small now that it had been saved and forgotten for over a year? Our eyes wide, we were both equally delighted as the shoe slid onto her foot like butter. A perfect fit. We had an outdoor party to attend that afternoon, and she begged to wear the shoes. My husband answered exactly as I would have a week prior: "No way. Party is outdoors. You'll ruin the shoes."

I looked directly into her sad eyes and commanded: "You're wearing the shoes. And you're going to wear them until they don't fit anymore."

I swear to you, it was one of the happiest moments my daughter has experienced. Because rule-breaking indulgence like that, she'd never seen it pronounced so fiercely by me before. And to be honest, I was just as excited to see her wear and use and dirty those shoes as she was to climb in them. And so I vow to myself to live life a little more like her. Tackling the rock wall, one bejeweled step at a time, remembering always to enjoy the moment and to worry, if even just a little less, about whether I'll be able to step into tomorrow in those same shoes. Because I'll always have had today.