Parting ways with smelly friends

Posted by Dale Wilsey Jr. | Posted in , , , , , , , | Posted on Tuesday, April 26, 2011

May you find rest beneath my bed, old friends.
These boots are rather uncomfortable. For the moment, that is. An exact replica of the pair I just abandoned after almost four years of abuse and miles of footsteps. It's hard to imagine that the old, worn leather and cracked soles, which had become comfortable in their embrace of my feet, were ever so cold and rigid.

The leather had become wrinkled with the memory of my movements. Creased and turned with my feet. The back of the heels, like every form of footwear I've ever worn down to nothing, had developed a slight slant wearing more on the inside. It's the way I walk. And I've never been able to correct it no matter how I try. It's a shame you can't rotate footwear like tires.

Three pairs of laces have broken in those boots. Each one right before work as I scrambled to pull them on and cinch them tight. Over the years, I've learned to always have an extra set lying in wait in the top drawer of my desk. It subdues the string of curses which would usually fly from between my lips during such an occasion. It's also much easier than trying to rig a broken lace together.

But the old boots had walked on well past their end. Like two leather zombies, they carried my feet across pavement and concrete, through mud and grime, snow and slush, and countless other conditions. They even made it through a fire and the gallons of water mixed with ash and debris. After that, they weren't waterproof. The soles cracked and the tread wore down to nothing. The leather dried. Water seeped in during the snow and rain. If there's one thing I hate, it's soggy feet.

What will become of these tired, old friends? Truthfully, they will set beneath the end of my bed for quite a spell. I'll even wear them a few more times while these new, rigid monstrosities learn my feet. Like an old pair of sneakers, I'll keep them around. Until I finally succumb to the fact that there is no more use left in them. When the new become comfortable and familiar like the old, they'll find their way out of my life as I forget them.They'll continue some unknown journey past my knowledge until the last bit of leather dries up and decays.

Like this, but worse.
All those miles walked. Rocks kicked to the side. Our old footwear carries with it a story all their own. The places they've been. The horrible things they've stepped in. A life of unforgiving servitude. Maybe it's why most of us keep the old ones around for a while. As a thanks for giving us comfort while taking our abuse. Or maybe we keep them for the stories they hold. I still have my first pair of Chuck Taylors sitting in my closet. The canvas torn from the rubber toe from a punk show. They're beat beyond repair and I never wear them. But they're there. Reminding me, every time I see them, of the many memories they hold.

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