I never got caught up in that “Velveteen Rabbit” trap of seeing my soft toys as real creatures, perhaps because I have never actually read that book. I don’t name my appliances, except my Kindle (Bibliomatic). But I do, sometimes, have trouble letting go of inanimate things, especially unique or unusual things.
And so I am here today to say goodbye to two pairs of shoes that have served me well, but which are well past their prime. They are very ordinary in some respects, special in others. I’ve been holding onto them too long, but I can see they need to go.
The first pair are my favorites, my teal Converse. Well, they were teal. They are so well broken in now, truly broken, with torn fabric and cracks in the rubber that actually make them extremely comfortable and easy to wear, molded to my feet.
They weren’t so comfortable when I first got them. I tended to catch the rubber toe on carpet and uneven sidewalk surfaces as if they were too big, a problem that has never completely gone away. And the soles weren’t as flexible as I would like until the uppers started disintegrating. But boy, were they cute!
Teal is such an awesome color, and and they have a special limited edition double tongue with a black, white, orange, and yellow floral print that contrasts really nicely with the main color. That double tongue has the added benefit of breaking the line of the shoe too, so I don’t look like I have giant clown feet. (I don’t have cute little feet like some lucky short girls do.) People noticed the double tongue and commented on it, which made me feel like I had special shoes, which is easy to confuse with being special as a person or having special character or taste.
I bought those sneakers sometime before April 2009. Wow! That’s a long time to have a pair of sneakers. Most of the other shoes in my shoe photo-shoot from 2009 are long gone now, although I still have the leather boots and the pumps and the fancy beaded slippers which I keep as a piece of art rather than as footwear. Oh, and how I loved those brown criss-cross sandals. I had forgotten how cute they were.
I replaced my teal Converse with a pair of black, white, and pink ones with a grey double tongue detail several years ago. I honestly intended that the new ones should replace the old… but I wasn’t ready to let go of the old ones that were so comfortable while the new ones were so stiff. And I have worn both pairs A LOT over the last few years, choosing whichever pair would match better with the colors I was wearing.
But now I’m ready. The teal Converse aren’t even teal any more.
The other pair of shoes I’m letting go of have also featured in a shoe photo-shoot. In fact, they’ve even been on this blog before. They are a pathetic little pair of black slip ons, what we would probably have called sand-shoes back in the day, although these days they would be more likely to be compared to Toms. I bought them in Hawaii in 2010 at Payless. They cost $3. We had been warned that the walk we intended to do to Manoa Falls was best done in sneakers, not the flip flops that we’d been wearing everywhere else. So I chose the cheapest pair I could find, and they met my needs. I had intended to dump them when we were done, expecting the Hawaiian mud to ruin them, but when they washed up fine I couldn’t do it. They followed me home and were a handy shoe to slip on, but they weren’t the best shoe choice if I had much walking to do, and I had plenty of better options.
They had been relegated to the back door when the library’s decorated shoe project came up. I didn’t really intend to keep the shoes after I doodled all over them, but of course turning them into unique artwork made them much harder to let go of. It’s been 3 years since then…
They ended up at the back door again. Part of me thinks they should go back there even now, because, after all, it is useful to have a pair of slip on shoes at the back door when one lives in a shoes-off home.
The part of me that gets sick of tripping over too many shoes at the back door told me that they have to go. But I think that part of me forgets that I need something I can slip on when I wear socks – flip flops only work in the barefoot summer months. When my back door flip flops finally die, or when I finally let them go, I will find myself some slides or crocs.
As I say goodbye to these shoes I acknowledge that, at various times, they made me happy with their color or pattern, they prompted compliments from strangers, they kept my feet safe, and they met my needs. They also (sometimes) made my feet hurt and (probably) made people think badly of me for wearing such crappy old shoes. If I was poor I would be able to get a few more months or years wear out of both of them, but I am thankfully not poor. I have many other pairs of shoes to wear.
I hope my shoes can be ground up to live again as sports court material.
I thank them for many years of service.
And I don’t care if people think I’m nuts for writing this farewell. If it gets the shoes out the door, finally, it’s worth doing.