Sunday Scribblings - "My Shoes"
The thing about shoes is that each pair carries a story, or multiple stories in some cases. Every pair of shoes is much more than just two matching pieces of footwear. They carry memories and adventures, heartaches and joyous celebrations. Maybe that is why it is so hard to give away our old pairs of shoes. Even after multiple moves and countless attempts at “simplifying”, my closet still holds an array of shoes. And each pair has its own story.
The dingy white Converse sneakers purchased when I was 11 years old (and yes, they still fit) have walked many miles across varied paths. The faded remnants of inked doodles are still faintly visible if you look at the inside soles. The word “Texas” was once carefully written there in my youthful innocence, fueled by my fantasy of one day moving to the state of great open spaces and marrying a cowboy. Over the years, many boys’ names were also imprinted on the soles in black ink…hopeful markings of where I wanted my feet to lead me…namely, into the arms of those various boys.
Then there were the wooden sandal clogs…quite impractical shoes but perfectly fitting for the bohemian sundresses of my early adolescence. Despite the pain my feet endured, I wore those sandals on many adventures, down sandy paths that led to the midnight shore and across cobblestone streets in historic cities of the South. With my hand gingerly clasped in the hand of my first true love, we walked by the Savannah River smoking clove cigarettes and dreaming of a freedom that we could not fathom at the age of fourteen.
My black combat boots, now nestled in the back of my closet, a tribute to my days of adolescent rebellion. They were THE shoes, the shoes I was known for and remembered for. At the ages of 16 and 17, I wore those boots everywhere. Inspired by Drew Barrymore in the movie “Mad Love”, I put on long flowing dresses and my combat boots and imagined that the craziness in my head would somehow imbue me with the romantic beauty she so courageously portrayed in the movie. Even on Sunday mornings, as my parents nagged me to get out of bed and get ready for church, I insisted on wearing those boots. In a time when I struggled to establish my own identity, my black combat boots gave me one I could borrow until I could find myself on my own.
My old brown leather clogs, weathered by years and trials, still sit at the forefront of my closet. These are the shoes I wear when my pager goes off at 3 a.m. and I hurriedly jump into my dark green scrubs and head to one of 14 emergency rooms. These shoes walk the stark white hospital floors, sometimes stepping over puddles of blood or other bodily fluids. These shoes carry me into rooms of heartache and despair, rooms that have lost all sense of hope or basis of reality. These are the shoes that keep me strong when someone’s life is hanging by a thread. They are the shoes that guide me as I talk to doctors and police and families and patients. They are the shoes that help me save lives.
And perhaps most central to the past 10 years of my life are my black Reef flip-flops. These are my “everyday” shoes, the ones that walk through puddles of rain and then dance in the park just because the urge strikes. These are the ones I wear when I’m driving to the beach or to school or to the mall. They have walked on mountain trails, on sandy beaches, in the open desert, and in foreign lands. They’ve protected my tender soles (and soul) from hot pavement and burning fears. With speckles of white and blue and green paint barely visible after years of daily life, they hold a thousand stories and a million memories. These black flip-flops carry a piece of me and my life.
So there you have it…the stories of my shoes. Holding innocence and dreams, rebellion and uncertainty, romance and hope, death and fear…holding life, these shoes have walked many paths and will walk many more.