I woke up this morning to cat vomit on the kitchen table and an overflowing toilet. After those issues were resolved, I was struck with a rare urge to continue ­cleaning. So I cleaned out our closet.

I am a recovering hoarder, so the closet is where I store the things I know I will never use again but am not quite emotionally ready to throw away.

Like the T-shirt my Japanese friend gave me on our last day in New Zealand with the image of a hippopotamus with a bucket on its head and the poorly-placed protruding metal accessory that looks like a nipple ring. And the bag I used every day of grad school, a gift from my mom we picked out together because it “looks like fall.”

And my polka-dotted rain boots.

I wrote an essay six years ago about how those polka-dotted rain boots changed my life. But they didn’t change my life. Writing the essay about how they changed my life changed my life.

That essay got me a spot as a weekly columnist for my university’s award-winning newspaper. It became my first of sixty columns. It gave me my first experience being published and widely read.

It taught me that writing to entertain others was something I never wanted to stop doing.

Life has changed since then. Being a writer is no longer quite as light and easy as sitting down every Sunday night with a box of Cheez-its, pounding out 500 words about whatever random topic pops into my head, sending it in to have the profanities edited out, and seeing it published two days later with no further questions asked.

If writing a column was like building a model of a flea, then writing a book is like building a model of a human-sized squid. (And finding an agent and building a following and making yourself marketable and gag me gag me gag me is like constructing every animal in the whole damn aquarium).

But those boots. Those boots were what I was wearing when I took my first steps into this crazy world of writing. When I took my first look around and, though I knew there would be as many days of rain as there were of sunshine, said “Yep. This is where I want to be.”

As I took my polka-dotted rain boots out to the trash this morning, I thought of a line from a book I read years ago: If you want to remember, just remember.

And I will.

polka dot rain boots                                                                               (Photo from glambistro.com)

You can read my rain boot article here.