Dear Shoes,

I would like to extend my genuine appreciation and thanks. There are five of you remaining, my treasures.

1. Brown Boots

My man BB. You are the oldest and wisest, standing with me through my past drunkenness and cocaine use. Ten years.

I remember seeing you in the airport shoe market in Kentucky. I don’t know why anyone in their right mind would buy shoes in a Kentucky airport shoe market, but I did. We met, tried each other on for size, and it was a perfect match, comfort and style. I tossed my formers into a nearby garbage can, and away you and I flew to New York City.

I know it was rough for you, pounding that asphalt over and over again for six years, job hunting, dating the girl in Greenpoint, the girl in Washington Heights, Upper West Side, East Village, West Village, all the villages. Not to mention the countless entertaining and auditioning.

We also had our fair share of suspect surroundings: those times I bought cocaine from that black guy whose name was only one letter; that evening we did so much of said product with a woman in Upstate New York, hours of gibbering and sniffing, all the while her daughter’s pet lizard resting atop my shoulder. I applaud you, as you were comfortable, people complimented you, and you made me appear like I had my shit together, which I did not.

You are now completely worn, your sole is gone (no pun intended), and you sit there in the corner, lifeless, ironically fixated upon my “All Is Vanity” print. I know you’re tired, old friend. “How lucky am I to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” (A.A. Milne)

2. Navy Blue(ish) Deck Shoes

What can I say, it’s embarrassing. Twice I vomited on you when I was heavily intoxicated. I couldn’t make it across the room, and you were there for me, just as you had been when I merely slipped into you and hopped to the front door to pay the pizza guy. I’m sorry for those times—not the pizza guy, but the vomiting.

I thought we would be okay after gently placing you in the washing machine, even though your name clearly stated “Do Not Wash,” but I didn’t know what else to do at the time; I had to return to the beer and cocaine stat. I was thinking, “I’ll give them the ol’ rinse off just this once,” but we had to live that nightmare again, didn’t we?

We made it, and although you are tattered and crusty, approaching your sixth year, you are more than ready when I slip into you and make that brisk walk to the Shell Station for Pringles and Sprite.

You remind me of a cool, professor-y uncle who chain smokes Pall Malls and lectures about the Universe.

3. Big Bubba Snow Boots

You are more of a dramatic tale, as we met when my now ex-fiance introduced you to me. It was snowing in Chicago and you were so strong, so brave. Sometimes snow up to the knees, no thanks. But not you, you submerged yourself in those white mounds like a junkie.

Although I left Chicago in haste, to a non-snow boot climate that is Louisiana, I grabbed you for a reason. Perhaps I can get in touch with my outdoor ways and use you for swamp diving, or maybe I will finally end up in the nuthouse, and wear you with my short shorts and a grammatically incorrect T-shirt that reads, “I’S FINE.”

I’ll do my best to think of something fast.

4. Really Nice and Shiny Black Shoes

I have worn you three times over four years, and every occasion I have regretted it because you are pretentious and uncomfortable.

However, when the clock strikes the hour and it’s time for you and I to meet again, I can’t deny your ability to make me look quite exquisite—like Jay Gatsby, but broke.

5. Brown Payless Ones

You are the newest addition to the bunch, and I figured the most green, but since you have now heard a woman claim she is a witch, I certainly figured wrong.

“I’m a witch, and I cast spells,” she said. “I cast a spell to meet a man, and then I met you,” she continued, “even though I know it’s not what you are looking for, it does mean something.”

“Indeed it does,” I thought, wriggling around in the car seat.

You kept your composure, Nice Brown Payless Ones, and we thought of the best response: “Perhaps you need to cast a spell on a different man, and think of me as like a product of a Witch Spell Casting Workshop.”

She pulled to a stop at my destination, and I dipped from the car.

“I hope to see you soon,” she waved.

But you and I hit that pavement before her car was in reverse. There was no stopping, and we skipped directly to the front door. You remained steadfast and firm as we hustled inside, because for all we knew she cast a spell on us right there in her minivan.

I admire all of you. We've made it this far, let’s see how much farther we can travel.

Your wanderer,
Paul

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