Before starting college, I purchased a few pairs of shoes more expensive than anything I would have considered buying before. And not fancy shoes either; I had never been one to wear many high heals, and the shoes I needed were comfortable walking shoes for trudging across campus in all weather. Coming from suburbia, I believed that I would need better shoes than I had ever worn before to endure.
I now owned the very shoes that I had resisted buying in high school with strong moral resolve: why buy something that's supposed to be comfortable for an excess of a hundred dollars? And to look exactly the same as everyone else (at least when looking at the feet). I had always seeked uniqueness.
But when moving on to a new stage of my life, in a different town and lifestyle, where walking rather than driving is the norm for transportation, I figured that I might as well try wearing what I never had before, if only for the rationale of comfortable feet that were barely affordable.
And so, there I stood in snow, in rain, and in wind, in my new, though rustic looking, brand name shoes. And gradually, as I walked everywhere that I needed to go, they began to look more rustic. And more so. Until buckles broke. And the soles of boots grew so worn down that I feared that if I wore them for any longer I would find myself walking on the bare soles of my feet.
Now that I'm at home and my expensive shoes, or what's left of them sit in my closet safe from the elements, my worries about shoes just don't come up any more. When driving everywhere, it's very difficult to destroy a pair of shoes. In fact, I think I'd really have to try. Here in the suburbs, we go for "walks," and "jogs," wearing sneakers that are meant to be worn out. But otherwise, it's into the car in the driveway, and back out of the car in the parking lot of wherever we plan on going.
Honestly, I miss being able to walk everywhere I could have possibly wanted to go. When outside, without metal doors and glass windows to place you in your own little world, it's much easier to feel like a part of everything else. And as I walked from place to place, at a steady, relaxed pace, I overheard interesting bits of conversations that took place on a college campus. It was easier to notice when flowers bloomed, and when a rabbit darted through the bushes when I didn't need to look straight ahead to avoid a car crash.
There's something to be said for being exposed to the elements too. When walking though the rain, I, like my shoes got wet, and if my umbrella broke, a certain adrenaline rush came from running as fast as I could for the nearest shelter. When driving, we tend to feel nearly indestructible. But walking from place to place, not immune to the weather, can allow us to feel truly alive and vulnerable. Truly part of the rest of the world.
When I begin my next year of college this August, I'll start over with new shoes. I'll watch them closely as they pick up scrapes and mud, and as they get bent out of shape. They'll serve to remind me that I am not immune to the snow, and the rain, and the unexpected. And that's half the fun in life.
Once again, if you're reading this, please let me know, in one of many ways- comment, follow, or (if you happen to know me) just tell me what you think in person. Thanks to all!