A wistful parting from two faithful old friends
It is time. Past time, in fact. These old trail shoes have been with me for over three years now, and showing their age—split out at the sides, laces knotted in multiple places, smooth rubber on the soles where you’d expect to find sturdy tread, and no more arch support left at all.
These poor, dilapidated old things are long overdue for the dumpster, but it’s just so hard for me to part with them, after all we’ve been through together.
I still vividly recall the day I ordered them online (mostly because they were the exact shade of blue that I especially love—aquamarine). And then, four days later, my childlike excitement at spying a conspicuous box on our doorstep, feeling sure I knew what was inside.
Ripping open the box, I immediately tried them on, prancing about the house in my stunning new aquamarine sneakers, and announcing grandly to my wife that it felt as if I were walking on a veritable cloud! These beautiful blue shoes, unlike some other pairs I’d tried, would not be going back. They’d found a home.
I inaugurated my new blue shoes by first wearing them proudly through three separate international airports enroute to Scandinavia, making the happy discovery, during our first stop in Sweden, that they were the exact same shade of blue as the Swedish national flag (which seemed like a good
omen and helped me feel I somehow belonged there).
I wore them on Saint Olav’s Way, a famous pilgrimage path in Sweden, which we followed for over 50 miles. I wore them all around the cobblestone streets of Stockholm’s old quarter, before they became my de-facto deck shoes onboard the ship we took to Finland.
Back on land, they logged many more miles with me around Helsinki and surrounding areas. They ushered me all around the gritty streets of London, before we finally returning home together, my new shoes now suitably scuffed and well broken in, having formed themselves nicely to my long, narrow feet.
Back home, I wore them all around Spring City, including many treks up Grizzly Gulch, Canal Canyon and Maple Canyon, and on many motorcycle adventures up onto the Skyline.
As my blue shoes aged, they felt more and more comfortable on my feet, and more and more like old friends.
These trusty blue shoes were now my boon and faithful companions, and we went everywhere together, including a weeklong trek through Dark Canyon inside Bears Ears, exploring the Indian ruins of Grand Gulch, and along 60 soggy miles of river hiking through Escalante Canyon.
I have literary loved these shoes (maybe like the military buddy who’s been with you through thick and thicker), but all good things must come eventually to an end; and this is it.
I have a brand new pair of trail shoes that have been sitting patiently on a shelf in our mud-room for weeks, awaiting their rightful turn, but they’re still waiting.
I wore my old blue shoes during our outdoor chores today, and my wife, gazing down at these ratty and tattered old things on my feet, casually observed, “Still having that long goodbye, huh?”
I’ve asked her to just slip them discretely into the dumpster, without my knowledge, on the night before the city garbage truck comes around, since I seem emotionally incapable of doing it myself.
I will then have no choice but to lace up that pair inwaiting, and marvel at the novel feeling of new shoes—actual tread… and arch support!
And then, these new shoes and I will have ourselves an adventure together, and then another one, and then another one after that; and they will become suitably scuffed, and each new scratch and scuff will become a poignant reminder of someplace we’ve been together; and they will form themselves to my feet, and become my trusted and steady companions. And then, in approximately three years from now, I will have to suffer through this whole traumatic transition all over again.
Comments welcome: email@example.com