How long was it since she last emptied this dressing room? Was it two years, maybe five? More like ten years, when they first moved in together. Back then they divided up the spaces in the apartment, this office for her, that library for him ... But the dressing room they shared. The clothes, bags and shoes were all mixed up together, as they themselves were mingled, each borrowing bits from the other, hopes, desires, pullovers, thoughts ... they had gone together so well. For a few years. Then each took back their own bits.
Now, they no longer shared anything but the dressing room. She gets things out of the big cupboard and stacks what she’s going to give away on the right (the lace-up leather bag), and on the left the things she wants to keep (the grey silk scarf). Her hands are dusty. If he’d let her, she’d have got rid of all this mess sooner. But he hates throwing anything away. He hoards everything even if it is worn out, no longer useful or out of fashion. Like a hamster, he stores reserves.
Behind the sports bags, she finds a pair of boots. Italian boots. Sergio Rossi. The sides have been bent for so long that the leather is creased. She wipes it with her sleeve. It has kept its colour and still feels supple to the touch. These boots are pretty, fine, high, tapered. She slips them on and takes a few steps in them. She remembers how proud she felt the day she tried them on in front of him, imagining herself through his eyes. Fine, high, tapered. He had looked at her in silence. “Not your style at all”, he’d said finally, looking away. She’d taken them off, thrown them back on the shelf behind the sports bags and forgotten them. The boots make her legs look wonderful. She might have bought them only yesterday. She looks at herself in the mirror. She hesitates, then decides. It’s him that’s going. It has taken her ten years to admit to herself what now seems blindingly obvious, that she doesn’t actually love him. “He’s not my style at all” she thinks, with further astonishment that in fact boots age better than love.
Marie Desplechin’s writing, just like her fine, high, tapered boots, is full of clarity, beauty and lucidity. Journalist and cinema chronicler, she gained recognition as an author when her first collection of short stories was published, entitled Trop sensibles (Too sensitive)in 1995 and her first novel Sans Moi (Without Me) in 1998. In 2005, she carried off the Médicis Essais prize with Lydie Violet for La vie sauve, a recital full of strength and sincerity, that they wrote between them. She has also published many books full of humour and tenderness for young people.
My mother wore both her boots and her hair short. I found her very beautiful and glamorous when she went out. My first boots were made of rubber, the ones after that were leather. They were riding boots.
I have a pair of black boots from which I cannot bear to be parted. They haven’t worn out and are perfect for cycling. The brand-name is embossed into the leather. I’ve never found another pair like them.
I can’t see how the fashion for boots will ever pass. They are hard-wearing and timeless.