Beth Dolinar has been writing her column about life, both hers and the rest of ours, for over 20 years. When not on the page, she produces Emmy-winning documentaries, teaches writing to university students, and enjoys her two growing children.

When we least expect it, some small gift will show up, presenting itself as a harbinger of better times ahead. In this case, it was a shoe, left shoe, size 10, that made me laugh at my good fortune and, for once, believe my luck may be about to change.

What a rotten year it’s been. As months go, the last 15 have been the worst. That goes for all of us, of course, with the shared misery of the pandemic perched above us like a dark cloud.

My cloud was carrying extra storms of a different kind. For reasons I’ll someday hope to understand enough to explain in this space, the farmer left me and the United States to live on another continent. His departure was among a tsunami of bad luck that could fill a month’s worth of local newscasts.

The headlines include a fender-bender accident, a stressful and expensive landlord-tenant situation, a badly stubbed finger and an injured knee ligament. I almost let a large groundhog into the house this week because in the dark, it looked like my dog. My planter flowers got a fungus and all died. The fellow who mows my lawn couldn’t come because his truck broke down and my grass is now as high as an elephant’s eye. Oh, and my bike has a flat tire.

Whining, I know. Many people have it worse, but what the heck?

Well, it’s been a good run, I told myself.

Added to my list of trouble is my left leg which, as the result of cancer treatment 12 years ago, is swollen with a chronic condition called lymphedema. My left foot is a bit bigger than my right, a fact of life that’s frustrating but otherwise benign.

For years, when cycling I’ve worn a pair of green hiking sandals, the left of which has been stretched out enough to fit that bigger foot. But the sandals are falling apart. Last year, I bought a new, rainbow-colored pair, to be worn only when the green ones croaked which, this week, they did when the sole peeled off.

The new ones are spiffy, but I couldn’t get my foot into the left one – likely the result of my foot getting a little larger and the new shoe being tight. And so off to Zappos I went to order a new, larger pair.

And at that moment, sitting at my desk with my puffy left leg elevated, my luck shifted. I typed in Keen Sandals, and what would appear on my screen but the words single shoe, with a photo of my exact, too small, rainbow sandal.

And ... and.

It was a size 10, which I need, and also, yay!, a left.

The clouds parted and I think I heard angels singing. There, on the screen in front of me, was the exact shoe I need. I clicked “purchase” and paid – just $55, because I was paying for one shoe.

I don’t know the circumstances that led them to be selling a single shoe, but there it was, come to save me. (Perhaps there’s a cancer-survivor cyclist out there with the opposite problem. We should talk.)

They say that finding the perfect mate is well nigh impossible. Maybe the universe will send me a human one of those someday.

But for now, I’ll thank the universe – and Zappos – for sending me a different kind of perfect mate. My one sandal should arrive this weekend.

Beth Dolinar can be reached at

See what people are talking about at The Community Table!

Thank you for reading!

Please purchase a subscription to continue reading. If you have a subscription, please Log In.