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Juliana´s shoes

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The huge number of rows of shoes in all shapes and colours was overwhelming. For her, shopping had never meant more than a trip to the bazaar or thrift shop when her clothes looked like they would soon become dishcloths. And yet she could count on the fingers of one hand how many times her family had agreed to provide her with some clothes. That was partly why she had learned to sew, to mend and renew what little she had.

In retrospect it made sense why she was passionate about designing.

However, this purchase was different and therefore significant, because it would be the first thing, she would acquire for herself with her salary. She hadn't touched the money Chino left them except for college expenses. And she had finally saved enough for something decent.

She had previously invested her salary in inviting her girlfriend on several romantic dates, no big deal in her opinion, but she loved the smile Valentina gave her with each of her gestures, no matter how small they were. It was the least she could do to show her love. For some strange reason she didn't mind spending her money on pampering her girlfriend, but if it was about investing in herself, it was a different matter.

After noticing this, the brunette had spoken to her, helping her realise that it was okay to buy things for oneself.

-I feel like I don't deserve it. That I need to work even harder to be able to say I earned it. -She had explained to Valentina.

-Explain me one thing. Why don't you spare your money with me?

-Because you're my girl and I'm happy to share what I have with you. Also, because I love you. - She answered directly.

- Are you telling me that you don't love yourself and that's why you don't like to buy things for yourself?

At her question, Juliana paled. She felt as if she had been slapped in the face with reality.

-I do love myself, otherwise I wouldn't be able to love you. It's just that I'm not used to it. It feels awkward and wrong. I've always tried not to be a reason for my mother to stress about money, even to the point of skipping meals. I guess some habits are hard to break.

-Chiquita.

Valentina's blue eyes had crystallised with tears, she couldn't help crying every time Juliana shared with her something from her childhood and adolescence. She often wished she had met her earlier to support her in everything she needed.

-I have an idea: how about buying a new pair of tennis shoes this fortnight? I think it would be a great exercise to break those behavioural patterns. Plus, you wouldn't feel so bad about using your money on yourself because honestly, Juls, those converse need to be replaced.

Valentina had often wanted to give her new converse shoes, but had resisted because her girlfriend had refused, claiming that her old ones were still holding up.

So here she was, in a department store overwhelmed by the diversity of possible choices. By inertia she went to the sneaker section and her eyes fell on a pair of Converse with a silkscreen print of constellations, the pink dolphin formed by stars caught her attention, it reminded her of Valentina because of her sounds. The size was for children, she thought maybe in the future when she had a mini val she would buy her a pair....

What?!

The idea of children terrified her; it was only at times like this that her mind betrayed her. She even remembered that phrase she said to Lupe when her own mother was trying to convince her what she had with Valentina was an impulse; "I mean, you imagine I'm thinking about having a family, do you think I want to have a family after the family I had?

She didn't like to admit it, but there was a great panic when the idea of having children was casually mentioned.

She redirected her gaze to the adult section. Although there was a model identical to the one, she had, she opted to change at least the colour, because she would be wearing the classic Chuck Taylor. She was torn between yellow and white. In the end, being the practical person that she was, she took the latter option with her, as it was a basic colour that could be combined with many other shades.

A feeling of satisfaction and joy filled her chest as she paid for her shoes at the cash register.

Later that afternoon she would wear them for a date with her girlfriend. They had agreed to meet at the park where they had first met.

When Valentina saw her arrive, the first thing she noticed was Juliana's new shoes. She was very happy to witness the progress the black-haired girl had made in her life. She had been to different parts of the globe and had witnessed many beautiful landscapes, but all of them were overshadowed by the breath-taking sight that was Juliana Valdes. She preferred to revel in the beauty of her soul than to see a beach, no matter how sublime it was.

- Hi, my love! You look great in those trainers! I was right when I told you that you looked very stylish at our first encounter. -She said effusively and then kissed her.

- Don't you think they're too basic? There were other options...

-I'd say they're a classic. They never go out of style.

Without planning it, they recreated their first meeting, because they bought hamburgers at the same stall and walked through the park talking about everything and nothing. The difference with then is that nowadays they stopped every now and then to just hug and share little kisses.

Maybe it was the moment or how good she felt next to Valentina, that the shorter girl expressed something that she had been keeping inside her for a long time.

- Thank you for encouraging me to buy these shoes. I know that for some people getting excited about taking a step like this might be silly, but for me it meant getting closer to the free person I want to be. - Juliana began to explain. -When we first arrived here and Lupe had gotten a job, she told me that the first thing we would do when she got paid would be to change my shoes because they were too worn. Evidently that never happened because my mum spent the money on posters to look for the stupid Chino. I did change my shoes though, I had grey ones and then I found the blue ones at a donation place.

Valentina looked at her in grief, her heart ached with what she was hearing. She would never get used to the pain she felt when the love of her life gave her glimpses of her story. If it hurt her, she couldn't imagine what it would be like for the other girl.

-It was so confusing to live that way. One day Lupe seemed to care about my well-being so that at dawn she would forget about me because she was after Chino. I understand that I was never really a priority. She even complained to me for not loving my "father", who has treated me like a nuisance all my life. I guess all this buying me things made me wonder why I find it so hard to let myself be loved, if for many years any show of "affection" meant that it was given to me because there was no other way.

The gentle caress of Valentina's palm wiping away the tears she hadn't realised she was shedding brought her out of her musings. She seemed to have woken up from a dream in which the words kept escaping from her chest.

-I'm sorry, I don't know why I'm crying. I didn't mean to ruin our date.

Valentina sighed, that was the process with Juliana, sometimes she would make great strides like she did today, but suddenly she would regress or just have another aspect that showed the negative impact her childhood had had on her at present. She understood this because everyone had areas of opportunity to work on and mature. Patience and love would always be in abundance for her lover.

-Don't ever apologise for expressing your emotions, mi vida. I love to witness your growth, those steps that you said are to make you the version of yourself that you want to be.

She hugged her against her chest, giving her the warmth, she needed. She kissed the crown of her head and silently professed her love to her again. Her instinct wanted to protect her from everything, even her mother, whom she still occasionally wanted to complain to for not taking care of the most precious thing the brunette had.

-What I don't like is that you end up crying with me, Val. -She complained with an adorable pout on her lips.

-But then you give me hugs and kisses to reassure me that you're okay, so I get over it.

Juliana smiled again since she had begun to speak.

-You have a very kind heart, princess. -She kissed her forehead just because. -By the way, you can give me your method to keep your shoes pristine.

To this day she was surprised that her girlfriend managed to keep her white shoes intact. She went outside once and that was enough to get dirt, dust and food on her shoes.

- What will you give me in exchange for my infallible technique?

-Anything you want, Val.

- Really?

Juliana nodded, excited to finally know the secret. Valentina didn't think for many seconds about what she would ask for. She smiled mischievously, happy to have made the younger girl fall into her trap.

-You can't take it back, eh. This weekend you're going to let me spoil you, that means I'll treat you to the food, the massage and the shopping, because I want to give you whatever you want to have. It will be our second exercise in self-love; the lesson is called "Receiving everything my beautiful girlfriend gives me because she loves me".

- Val! I can't, it's too much. I...

Valentina folded her arms, acquiring the gesture of annoyance so characteristic of her. That alone was enough to make Juliana agree. The next day she had returned home with her hands full of bags, shoes, some clothes and even some board games she had always wanted. She had fulfilled the lesson effectively.

 


She opened the wardrobe she shared with her wife Valentina and sighed worriedly, because every day that passed the amount of clothes between her creations and the chestnut's modelling clothes multiplied. She considered accepting her wife's proposal to have a small wardrobe for each of her accessories, clothes and shoes. Yes, over the years her collection of trainers had grown considerably.

The idea seemed to her like something only the rich did, but again she reminded herself that, although the brunette no longer lived with the same habits as when she met her, she was still a millionaire. Besides, Juliana was a designer, and a room like that would suit her just fine.

Although for that it would be better to move from their current house, because it was too small for such adjustments, not to mention that soon they would need to enlarge the spaces to receive the baby they would adopt. After many years of reluctance, Juliana confronted her fears about parenthood and embraced the desire to form a family with Valentina. Both shared the same wish to give a child in a vulnerable situation a better chance. The brunette was so inclined because she knew all too well how painful it was to live without parents, and Juliana because she had first experienced the damage that parents can do to children, especially if they have problems such as alcoholism, co-dependency and domestic violence that abounded in her existence for many years.

- What are you thinking, my love? -Valentina's sweet voice surprised her. Suddenly she felt her long arms wrap around her waist from behind.

-I want to buy some Converse I saw a long time ago for our baby.

Valentina pulled her even tighter against her, planted a kiss on her neck, revelling in the natural scent of her lover. She was very happy every time they mentioned the arrival of her daughter. It had been a slow and complicated adoption process, even their relatives had suggested they give up, but they were anything but cowards of hard work.

So, they were going to make the most of every moment by their daughter's side, and they had indeed bought her a lot of Converse to match Juliana.