Walk a Mile
I bought new tennis shoes this weekend, even though I don’t play tennis. You might know them as “sneakers.” I don’t sneak much. I probably sneak more than I play tennis, though. It would probably be more descriptive to just call them “Nikes.”
I had to buy new shoes because I didn’t know my foot size when I bought my last pair, apparently. I’m prone to having troubles with my toes (particularly my big toes), but I’ve been noticing lately that it’s worse when I wore my Nikes.
First thing I did at the first shoe store I went into was measure my foot on one of those weird metal foot-measuring things. The salesman slides that curved metal part so it fits around the curve at the ball of your foot and it feels like your foot just got slapped in manacles and is going to be put in solitary for a year. I’ve always been creeped out by that.
The measuring manacle said my foot was a half-size bigger than the shoes I was wearing. That sounded about right, though there’s something depressing about having big feet. My dad always used to talk about “boats” or “skis” when I’d come home from getting new shoes, but I’d never been diagnosed with size 12.5 feet before. Add to that the fact that very few stores carry half-sizes so I have to look for size 13 shoes and it becomes a real downer.
I started my search. It should be noted at this point that my friend Kat was along, mostly because I am what we like to call “fashion challenged.” Her job was to help me strike some sort of balance between what I liked and what would actually look okay for me to wear. Right away I was informed that a “too white” shoe was not going to make the cut. I was also not interested in anything too flashy. My only demands were that they be Nikes and that they specifically be “Nike Air.” I found years ago that Nike Airs were better for my back – that Air cushion seems to be the main reason.
Do you know how hard it is to find Nike Airs that aren’t too white or too flashy? Turns out, it’s about five-stores-hard.
At the first store, we ran into a salesman that Kat knew. He was all about selling me some shoes, talking about “hooking me up” and letting me spin the “savings wheel” for an extra discount. He seemed a bit too interested in seeing that I bought shoes from that store, and it was a little disconcerting.
Second store: found a possible shoe, but they didn’t have it in my size.
Third store: nothing.
Fourth store: nothing, though Kat got a pair of flip-flops best described as “adorable.” Also “cute.”
At the fifth store, I finally stumbled on something: a mostly-white shoe with black detailing. Did they have my size? No, they did not. However, they did have the same shoe with blue detailing in my size. Fine. I tried them on, they seemed okay, I bought them.
I can remember that, when I was younger, I liked getting new shoes. When I put them on, I felt like I could run faster, jump farther, and be lighter on my feet than with my old ones. I loved how new they looked, and it was always a sad time when they first got dirty. Now, though, I dread change. I get used to the feel of my shoes, even if they’re not the best fit for me. I could put that same pair of shoes on every day for years just for the familiar uncomfortability they offer. I want to hang on to the look, the feel, the familiarity, and even the memories of where those shoes have been. Putting on new shoes feels like I’m abandoning the old ones, especially since the old ones aren’t worn out yet. I didn’t think I’d be ready for new shoes for a long time.
But… I outgrew the old ones. I wasn’t expecting that to happen. I figured I was all done growing. The shoes fit when I bought them, and I expected to wear them for a long time. My decision to get new ones came as a surprise to me, but I guess sometimes pain beats desire.
In the meantime, I’ve got these new shoes. They look bigger than I should be able to wear, but my feet fit in them without mashing my big toes. They’re clean and spiffy, and I’m already worried about the first time I’ll get them marked up. I’ve taken to them pretty quickly, and I’m surprised by how comfortable I am with them already.
I wonder where these shoes will take me…