Recently, I found myself Googling the meaning of the phrase, “waiting for the other shoe to drop.”
The meaning of the phrase is “to await a seemingly inevitable event, especially one that is not desirable,” according to yourdictionary.com.
My research continued as I then looked for the origin of the phrase.
Per wiktionary.org, the phrase derived from a common experience of tenement living in apartment-style housing. It is believed the phrase was born in New York City during the manufacturing boom of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Apartments were built with very similar designs, with the bedrooms located directly above and underneath one another. Thus, it was normal to hear a neighbor removing their shoes in the apartment above.
As one shoe made a sound hitting the floor, the expectation for the other shoe to make a similar disturbance was created.
This phrase came to my mind recently while I was observing my cat.
Madam Bixby was adopted by my fiancé, Jeremiah, eighteen months ago. She is a majority gray calico with olive green eyes. Bixby was found during the COVID-19 lockdown behind a food shelter. She was alone and scared.
At first glance, she looks masculine, which is why her gender was assumed to be male on the Facebook pet adoption post.
Jeremiah showed interest in adopting the abandoned cat, and Bixby’s foster parents released her into Jeremiah’s care quickly after.
However, mere minutes after her adoption, it was discovered that Bixby wasn’t a male cat after all. Instead,she was a very pregnant female.
Over the next few months, Jeremiah and Bixby found themselves going through the birth and raising of Bixby’s kittens followed by the task of finding loving homes for all three kittens.
After the mission was accomplished, Jeremiah and Bixby found that their bond had been forever solidified.
I came into Bixby’s life six months after she had been rescued. She made it known that this was her house, and that Jeremiah was her man.
I could tell she was a smart, scrappy (often misunderstood) mama cat. I respected her space and honored her place. By the end of the first visit, she was sleeping on my lap.
When I look at Bixby, I am reminded of myself.
There have been times in life when things didn’t work out the way I thought they would. I found myself scared and alone. Once your heart has been broken, it becomes challenging to trust again. It takes time, patience and courage to let your guard down.
Good things do happen. Stray pregnant cats find caring helpers that guide her and her babies to their forever homes. Good people do exist. Single moms and dads can find each other and build a healthy, happy home for themselves and their kids.
There are times when negative, fearful thoughts fill my head. I can feel my body tense and my heart begin to race. The other shoe is about to drop, I just know it! It is in these times when Bixby comes and finds me. I pet her soft fur and feel her steady purr. She reminds me that we are all worthy of a happy life, no matter what happens before or how long it takes to find it.
I woke up this morning to find that Bixby had assaulted my favorite house plant. Dirt was scattered all over the office and my beloved fiddle-leaf fig had exposed roots.
Sometimes, shoes drop and the impact is life changing. Sometimes, shoes drop and we just need a dust pan and a broom to clean it up. In the middle of these dropping shoes lie the best part of life, the joy in between the inevitable.
Bixby and I will act as accountability partners to see the joy. Additionally, due to our cat-like reflexes, those dropping shoes are getting easier to catch.
Shannon Lincoln is a writer, life coach and pre-school teacher residing in San Antonio.