I keep my shoes, even though they’re worn down, even though they’re worn out. They are underneath my bed or lined along the walls. I admire them for what they were and the places they’ve gotten me. Sometimes I think about the places I ran from in certain shoes, usually boots from the winter. They gave me traction when I used alcohol as a jacket for warmth inside of bars cooled down for the bodies pressed together and wrapped in wool sweaters.
There are holes in the bottom from my walks over sidewalks and gravel and sand. I remember all of the times I ended up in places I didn’t intend to be, fueled by a curious mind and an eager spirit. My feet, like my shoes, were tortured by the conditions, and yet they kept moving, spurred by an uncontrollable desire to keep going. The going often led nowhere, but those few twists and turns that were fruitful make me less regretful.
I used to own a pair of vintage tan western shoe boots and they were heavy and weird and perfect. I purchased them on eBay at the end of spring, their purpose during the unbearable summer of Chicago rather pointless. My roommates were done. The whole campus was gone. I remember sitting on the stairs of my brownstone and looking out at the campus deserted. They had just arrived and I wore them, tight on my toes. I was regretful, wondering if it would ever get better, if the purchase was useless because of the pain I endured. Eventually they loosed up and then conformed to the shape of my bones to such a degree that I found myself walking everywhere, all the time, oblivious to the separation of skin and pavement.
But on the stairs that day, I thought about all of the places we would go. I say we because the shoes are my companions for my long daily walks. They’ve been everywhere I’ve been, and will go everywhere I must go.
Image by: Britt Julious