They were perfect. They are still perfect. Soft faux leather contrasted with golden zippers and an attached leather band that added height to their flawless figure. Even though they were made for kids, it felt like they were meant to be with me. And so, I did not give two fucks when the sales clerk condescendingly commented: “These are kids shoes”. You would think that since I was the one paying for the $50 kids shoes that she wouldn’t make such a comment, but sales associates, I’ve learned, can be super judging.
It’s crazy that they look completely unrecognizable now. My feet have molded their shape in such a way that they feel custom made. The soles are so thin I can feel the warmth of the floor when I walk around. There’s a rip on the side seam of the left shoe. The shoeshiner can no longer mask the obvious signs of color deterioration. As much as I never wanted to give them up, I had to because walking into a meeting with them on did no longer feel as powerful as before. They were tired and their appearance made it noticeable.
It makes sense, though. These girls have walked the streets of Paris, have paraded around the gardens of Château Versailles, visited the Memorial for the Murdered Jews of Europe in Berlin, navigated the streets of Madrid and climbed to the San Miguel lookout in Granada. These bitches have lived, truly lived. I don’t think any other shoe I’ve ever owned has been through experiences like these. I wore them when I went to apply to my semester abroad in Spain, to my first day on the job, the day I left Madrid and the day I kissed a boy under the Eiffel Tower.
But what is really important about these shoes is that they were the first item I bought when I realized that my personal style was evolving, that I no longer felt an affinity for color, and that I needed to outgrow who I was and morph into who I had become. I was no longer settling for being just a journalism student. I wanted more.
The burial of the shoes got me thinking. Do we ever acknowledge the power that clothing can have over our lives? Why do we buy what we buy? Is it just an act of unmindful consumerism or a thought out process of building our own armory for the shit life throws at us?
The shoes have now been replaced by a newer version. It’s about practicality; I need flat boots to wear every day to work and school. But, most importantly, I need new partnerns in crime, victory, travel and sorrow. The inimitable boots have been put into my memory box. Their soles now feature the names of the cities I visited wearing them. They were definitely worth the $50 and the blunt remarks.