Back in my moccasin and penny loafer days in high school, my best friend asked if I ever wore sneakers. She said this with a hint of judgment meaning “Don’t you ever dress down?” I didn’t, unless I had a specific purpose such as playing a sport, or wearing grubby ones for yard work or camping.
However, there was a short stint during middle school where wore sneakers on a regular basis. They were a navy blue pair of high top Converse, which was a big to-do for my family to purchase. Mom wanted to know why a girl would want such “ugly boy shoes.” Dad was concerned about the quality of canvas and the price tag attached. After much cajoling, the box made it home. I wore my Cons almost daily with pride. Those shoes were a snapshot capturing a moment when I finally got my way and satisfied a longing for “Cool.” For once I was wearing something name brand and I felt in sync with the style of the time. The Cons made it about three years through the wear and tear of a teenager. By the time they were reluctantly placed into the garbage, there were small holes, random doodle designs, and crossed out names of crushes dancing along the sole.
A pair of indoor soccer shoes used for just one season from several years ago still occupy the farthest corner of my closet. I can’t seem to part with them. They represent a time when I played games at 10:00 at night, sweated profusely, and felt that athletic high. I had war stories to share the next day of jammed toes and ripped fingernails from being slammed into the Plexiglas wall and bruises worn with pride. They reflect a time of aggression, release, and belonging to an unlikely team of all female elementary teachers.
Heels of all shapes and sizes also occupy my closet. They’re organized by style, color, and heel height. Those that know me would say, “Of course they are!” I love having several choices to compliment my outfit or mood for the day. As shallow as it may sound, heels can make me feel pretty, extra tall, and somewhat saucy.
Perhaps one reason I love shoes so much is that I feel a slight change in identity, depending on the selection: sporty, playful, relaxed, spicy, adventurous, or girly. Really, it is because they always fit. A shoe with a unique design doesn’t discriminate against one’s physical or emotional state. I can step forward with a different gait led by the shoe wrapped around my foot, creating a moment of sparkle, a moment of confidence, a moment of direction.
Shoes can be read like a palm, reflecting a life line through the years. They identify personality and experiences for what once was or could have been; vessels of nostalgia.
~D. Thompson: 10/2010; Rev 7/2015