Today’s daily prompt has challenged me to think about my favorite pair of shoes and where they have taken me. I mentally scanned my inventory of memorable shoes smiling at several before moving on to another pair. The bright orange Chuck Taylor’s from my college years, the insanely high dominatrix pumps that never made it out of my closet, the embroidered leather Keds that I wore at my wedding reception, they all bring a warm feeling to my heart. Still, none of these compare to the most versatile and incredible pair of shoes I’ve ever owned, the black suede Esprit t-strap rubber soled workhorses.
I don’t recall buying these shoes, but of course I must have. My earliest recollection of them is as an undergraduate. Those shoes had the comfort of a tennis shoe but with a lot more style. I wore them with just about everything; leggings, dresses, mini skirts, genie pants, my dad’s old army pants, and of course jeans. It wasn’t until I studied abroad, though, that they really came into their own.
You see in those days, the eighties, it was very easy to spot Americans in Europe by their shoes alone. Our obsession with comfort for our feet wasn’t shared by our European counterparts in those days, I guess. Either that, or their solution was foreign to American feet. Either way, I didn’t want to be the obvious American in my travels, so those black shoes covered a lot of miles (or kilometers, depending on the country). They took me across the English channel and through Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, and Italy. They hopped a plane with me for a jaunt to Portugal. They spent Christmas with me at the home of a remarkable Swiss family, and they were on my feet as I dined on Indian food alone on New Year’s Eve in Manchester, England. They walked all over London, and day and night through York. They carried me home from the pub at night and off to class in the morning.
Eventually my time in Europe drew to a close, and my shoes and I went home. I graduated college and got my first job, supervising an after school program. Casual dress was the order of the day, so on many days the t-straps were on my feet. They moved on with me to graduate school, and spent more time in the closet as professional dress became the order of the day. When I landed a preschool position I was overjoyed to be reunited with them. Two year olds didn’t care that I wore stretchy pants and t-strap shoes!
Those shoes came along as I moved out west and became a married woman. They were on my feet as a drone office worker, and even as a young mother. Eventually one day I took a good hard look at them. They were a wreck. Those wonderful shoes that had logged millions of miles were tired. They could no longer comfort my feet, and they were smelly and falling apart. After a more than a decade of heavy use, I conceded that it was time to let them go. I will never forget those shoes and how they walked me through some of the best years of my life.