Today’s daily writing prompt asks about the author’s favorite pair of shoes. Perhaps I’m skirting the female archetype here…but I don’t have a favorite pair. Perhaps I’m far too practical (or casual) for that sort of cataloging of items, but I do not and have not ever had a favorite pair of shoes. The real opportunity here is to contemplate travel, looking past the vessel that took me to the places that I’ve been, which I think is a fine endeavor.
Running shoes took me to county fairs and tennis practice in high school. Those shoes (Avia’s I think) were never devoid of dirt from running through freshly disced vineyards with a sheep or two.
Dance sandals took me to Ohio for WGI Worlds (lets not forget that heinous Ramada), the Bay for WGI Regionals (winner winner!) and across countless high school gym floors and tennis courts for performance warm-ups.
Black pumps held me up as I called each meeting of the FFA to order with the rap of a gavel, competed in a competition, attended a leadership conference, or simply put on my dress uniform. Most remarkable was their trip across the stage at the Indianapolis Convention Center in 2005 when I received my National Degree.
Grey and black snow boots kept me upright in the snowbanks of Anchorage Alaska when we traveled to UAA (12 people, all flying standby) to charter Alpha Phi Omega on their campus. That weekend was magical, though the debate over the plural pronunciation of “moose” was never actually settled. Someday I’ll get back to see the Northern Lights and go crab fishing.
Black Uggs were taken off and on, and then off again as I went through security checkpoints to get to London and then Edinburgh, Scotland for New Years in 2005/2006 – but not before I galavanted across New York for a few hours during my layover. 20 years old and traveling alone. Snakebite drinks at the local club, ghost tours through the Royal Mile, late night dashes through the Tube into Leicester Square and climbing the steps at St. Pauls, watching Bloody Mary’s Castle lit up with fireworks for Hogmanay and meeting a sweet German boy – I’ll never forget that trip, or those shenanigans. Thanks Theo.
Brown and black heels clicked and clacked on the marble floors of the Schloss Leopoldskron in Salzburg Austria in 2007, and black knee-high leather boots and white converse took me down the path, through the fields, up over the hill of the convent, past the beirgarten and around town. Salzburg will always be my go-to space, even if only in memory.
A combination of flats, converse, flip flops and rainboots cushioned my steps around SJSU. Board meetings, chariot races, toga parties, protests, committee meetings, community service, tabling, studying, advocating, exercising or tailgating, comfort mattered. Whether it was Associated Students, California State Student Association, Academic Senate, Salzburg, of my last semester of interning, I was always sad that calendar items with proper names meant needing to wear heels…they make too much noise on the cheap linoleum of the classroom buildings. Let us not forget that black sparkley pair that I borrowed from Sara O when I was crowned Homecoming Queen.
Brown converse sent me up a hill, to the top of the tallest building and down to the public market before they sent me through a biodome of sorts and then sailing out of Seattle and into Victoria. Those same shoes send Nik and I running off the ship and into a cab, afraid to miss our kayaking reservation, and then those shoes rested as our arms did all the work as we paddled around the bay looking for otters and watching hydroplanes take off and land. Nanaimo was next, and that sent us to shore in lifeboats and watching cannons be fired in the old, shallow port town. Truth be told, I wore socks out on our private balcony while we drank wine and ate local truffles, so I’m not sure if that counts for this post.
Brown flip flops barely protected my feet as we stood in a semi-circle on Carl Drive on a sweltering summer day. It had most of the makings of a memorial day bar-be-que of the past, but it was different. As we eulogized them both and their four children gave them their final resting place, I couldn’t hold back the tears. Grumpy from the heat, Nik rubbed my back through the “service” and I’ll be forever grateful for that act of grace.
Magenta and grey Asics carried me over the finish line of my first half marathon, and over the finishlines of my first few 5 and 10k’s. Training for this race taught me volumes about myself – and on raceday, it also taught me about the invisible village that I have around me; that I am fed and feed the determination and motivation of others. Even moreso, that I have to actively choose to participate in the village that naturally exists; I trained and ran that race alone, and I had to ask for the support that I didn’t realize I was going to need. So I asked, and I ran, and when those Asics carried me over the finish line at a 9 minute mile pace, I realized that I’d stepped up a rung on my own ladder.
Brown Cathy Jean riding boots (2010) have carried me through casual bar trips, casual friday’s, trips to the City, through airports and on party trollies. Almost ALL of those activities took place during my adventures through graduate school in pursuit of my MPA. So, for simplicity we’ll memorialize graduate school with the brown riding boots that I pulled on almost every Saturday that we had class, took grad photos in, went to study groups in, and just in general – live in. It’s been quite the “ride” – and it’s not over yet, though it might be time to get new boots or make a trip to the cobbler.
Bare feet is my favorite style. Gardening, arts and crafting, and yoga-ing are all done with bare feet. What fun is gardening if you can’t feel the cool dirt between your toes? Why would one have shoes on in the house when they’re crafting? Kick ’em off and stay a while. Yoga cannot be accomplished with a man-made soul. All of these activities require and inspire relaxation, which is what I’m trying to learn to do and form habits around. After all, in case of emergency – put your own oxygen mask on first.