Today I bought another pair of shoes. From a fellow medievalist working in a shop.
It turns out the extremely charming Italian salesman had recently interviewed at the large research institution just up the road from the smaller college where I teach and had just completed a PhD in medieval Persian literature at UCL. He is way smarter and has a much better academic pedigree than I.
This was one of those days–and there are many–when I wonder how I have a job at all. I am lucky to get to spend my days in archives and my evenings at the theatre. And my Sunday afternoon at Laduree with an old friend and violet-scented macarons. And my nights prowling the Thames in search of sleep in one of my favourite cities in the world. I am lucky to have the job I have.
But I could just as easily be working in a shop too. I spent a miserable year in the late 80s working at Laura Ashley and looking like a flower garden had barfed all over me. In fact, I wore a very similar pair of brogues to the ones I bought today with lace tights and a square-necked, puffy-sleeved, corduroy floral frock, with my spiral-permed hair caught up in a huge-ass velvet bow. I was dreadful at retail. It is a very trying job.
I might work hard, at both the job I had before and the one I have now, but I don’t work harder than anybody else. And hard work doesn’t mean I deserve this job anymore than anyone else. And sometimes I wonder if I deserve it less … which is what keeps me up at night.
Luckily there are deeply-discounted, Italian-made, kitten-soft, blue suede shoes that come medievalist-approved.
I might sleep in them tonight.