The Shoe Project


Shoe Story 12: My Blue Wedgies

Shoe Story 12

A pair of blue shoes, a present from my mother in Canada, where I was a visitor in 2009, has become my talisman. Of course, these shoes hold no actual magic, but they led me to great people and to a chain of valuable changes. Upon my return to Ukraine, I started to work at a dating agency. I was wearing my comfortable Canadian wedgies when I first stepped foot into that agency. I will always associate these shoes with experiences that broke the walls of my past.

I was nineteen when I first saw Canada from the plane. That flight meant a reunion with my mother after ten long years of separation. However, four months in Toronto flew by. Full of regrets, I found it hard to return to my usual life in Ukraine. Before my departure, my mother gave me a gift—my first pair of Canadian shoes. They were made of blue-dyed deerskin with wooden wedge heels and a sophisticated leather bow on the top. At first, they meant nothing, but later I realized their symbolic value. 

Landing in my homeland, I made up my mind to return to Toronto. But first, I had to finish my bachelor's degree in linguistics. My senior year of university was full of anticipation. For 150 days of 2010, when I got dressed in the morning, I found myself instinctively reaching for my blue wedgies. That year raced along. Writing my finals, I was wearing my Canadian shoes. 

That year, I started a job at a dating agency. It allowed me to save up money for my trip to Canada and also to practice my English. Listening to the personal stories of the clients, I confronted the depth and complexities of love. I saw ordinary people genuinely searching for love. Some of them were eager to find an object of adoration. Others seemed content with brief but passionate relationships. My life was enriched with new friends and ways of thinking. I was healing some emotional wounds. 

At the dating agency I learned that financial stability and success can make life comfortable, but not necessarily complete. No matter how rich or poor the clients were, each was seeking to love and to be loved. Whether they were without any family experience or divorced, their hearts were still open to Cupid's arrow. 

I was surprised to observe that some people release their light when it comes to love. But I also came to understand how marriage can be a mistake. In our family, my mother was blinded by my father’s overwhelming charm and tolerated his major faults. Because she suffering from low self-esteem, she doomed herself until the day she gave up. 

After eleven years of marriage my parents divorced. My mother left our home for England, and my father was hospitalized for almost two years. I was nine and my sister was five. We spent our childhood in a turbulent atmosphere of our parents’ constant fights and nervous breakdowns. Never did we witness our parents happy together. I suppose that was what led me to the dating agency. 

My work became not only a form of therapy but also my school about relationships. My childhood had made me an extremely closed person. But I began to see that personal gaps and emptiness can be healed when you surround yourself with positive people and novel experiences. 

After my 2010 reunion with my mother, putting on my blue deerskin wedgies became part of my daily ritual. Somehow, they gave me a feeling of empowerment. 

Instead of returning home after my graduation, I began to hunt for another job in Odessa. Miraculously, I found a position at a prestigious boutique on the first day of my search. I had on my blue Canadian wedgies. I was interviewed on the spot, and I started the next day. There I found my own corner of peace where I could stay positive. 

Could it have been something magical and mysterious about my shoes? All I know is that I have been wearing this gift from my mother during some of the happiest moments of my life. 

Ultimately, my search for independence pushed me back to Toronto. I brought the blue wedgies with me when I started my life in Canada. I have no idea how this new adventure will play out. But I have my special pair of shoes, my talisman. On my journey, I always seem to encounter some person or thing that leads me to myself.


TANYA ANDRENYUK is 22. Her homeland is the Ukraine. She’s a dreamer who gets lost in her own fantasy world. The key to her happiness is feeling that she grows in experience, and living for the moment. She tries to give more, not to get more. In future she would like to have a job connected with people, communication and travelling.

More Shoe Stories from Session 1, Toronto

1: My Great Grandmother:
The Wartime Shoemaker

2: In My Red High Heels

3: A Conversation Starter

4: Mother's Work

5: Skiing

6: The Wind Beneath My Feet

7: Canada, Olé

8: My Aunt’s Memory of Shida

9: Cooverji the Village Cobbler / Baby Black Shoes

10: My Nike Running Shoes

11: My Funky Shoes

12: My Blue Wedgies

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