Uncomfortable Shoes

They were a white canvas running show. The sides of the shoe sported a light blue swirl, the NIKE logo of the eighties. They traveled with me during spring, summer, fall and winter. These shoes knew their way from my home to my school, over the wooden ties of the train tracks. The train tracks cut a direct path from my house to my school. Halfway down the tracks there was bridge, the slats of wood evenly spaced so that I could see the water of the creek rush far beneath my feet. It was a long bridge and I never felt completely safe until I was across to the solid ground at the other end. My shoes would quickly make their way across the slats, nimbly avoiding the spaces between. My heart pounding in stacatto lumps, my ears straining for the click roar scowl of the train.Over time these shoes became worn, reliable and comfortable. They were a part of me complete with the frayed holes of my growth. My mother had different ideas concerning these shoes. She noticed the scruffy frayed holes, the lovely beige brown colour that no amount of cleaning would make white and sparkled in that dull plastic way that new shoes shine.

The ultimatum:

I had one week to lose the shoes or they would end up in the trash.

My shoes amongst yesterdays eggshells, wet soggy coffee grounds, bits of dried toast speckled with raspberry jam squishing through the holes of worn toes. To be picked up by the metal teeth of the garbage truck and hauled far away to be burnt in a final bitter release. I couldn't bear the thought. I suppose the most practical thing to be done would be to hide them away in a box at the far cobwebby corner of my closet, far behind the heavy winter coats of last winter's dance. Hidden from the view of sensible eyes. They would exist for the spider's web but would miss the daily trek through my life. To live in darkness, confined by the boundaries of a box, without even a window of light and sunshine.

I was mopey sad. The sun was shining and I couldn't help but notice the spring heat rising in ropes above the payment of the school parking lot. The last bits of snow hid in brown dirt deep in the shadows of corners. It was a day to head downtown for lunch and enjoy the freedom the sun had to offer. As I began the first terrifying steps across the bridge, I could hear the creek pushing the last chunks of ice onwards. The trees smelled that musty wet, sweet smell of growth. I came to the middle of the bridge and looked over the edge. I forgot about the looming noontime train and instead watched the water in white crescent waves roll over tree branches, ice floats, rocks and muddied muck and then onwards to a place I couldn't see beyond the tree driven bend. In a surge of impulsive joy, I pulled off my right shoe and swung it high into the air. It created an arc against the blue lit sky, against the budding trees and slowly drifted downwards into the middle of the creek. I watched in awe as my shoe turned into its own adventure boat, the water creeping in through the brave holes, taking it far off around the bend. I quickly pulled off my left shoe and watched as it leapt to catch the right. I watched them dance with the waves until they were far beyond the bend, beyond my vision of sight.

I remembered the train but I was in no hurry as I slowly sauntered down the bridge. A practical solution it was not, as I had to walk around for the duration of the day in snagging soggy socks, but then again, life is to short to wear uncomfortable shoes

-1999-