Wednesday, May 16, 2012

What's Your Shoe Size?

My feet stopped growing years ago. Stopped at size nine and a half U.S. (you look at the tag and it's a different number in different countries.) This is one thing I miss from childhood. Your feet are still growing. When I was a kid, I would buy new shoes once a year, or sooner if they were in bad shape. The smell of plastic seeping through the hundreds of boxes on the shelves. And that amazing shoe they had on display was never available in your size.

I'm sure you all rememeber shoe shopping as a kid. But just in case you don't, let's go on our time machine. What's that? It hasn't been invented yet? Don't be silly. Just close your eyes for 5 seconds. And I'll do the rest.

One. Two. Three. Four...Five.

You're eleven years old. Your shoes are dirty and one lace is longer than the other so you've been stepping on it all day long. It's dirty from that end. You walk into the dining room and your mom looks at your shoes. "Look how you treat your shoes," she says. "We'll buy some new ones on Saturday." You nod and walk away (oh, by the way, the time machine also lets me know what you're thinking and how you feel.) Two days pass quickly and it's Saturday morning. Your mom drives you to Foot Locker. On the drive there, you don't want to let go of your old shoes. They're dirty and worn, but they've become a part of you now, much like when you enter a new school grade and you meet your new teacher. It's a man. He looks mean. Perhaps he has red hair. And thick brown framed glasses that barely cover his brows. You think you're going to hate him. You wish Ms. O'neal was here. But you grow to like him.

(Maniac Magee never stopped running.)

Your mom is not too eager. She knows how picky you are. You're going to spend an eternity picking the right shoe. It's the same every year. "This one's nice," she says, but no. You want to pick it yourself. You wish she would wait outside. All the pressure. Like when someone breathes over your shoulder when you're trying to draw something. Or write something. You can't see, focus unless you're by yourself. But in every case, they never leave you alone. But one thing does excite you. You're going to find out how much your foot has grown. What your new size is. Last year you were a 6. And your shoe is so worn it's probably not even a size 6 shoe anymore. You're foot is a monster.

You finally find a shoe that you like. Its dark blue with white designs. It has no shoe laces. You hate shoe laces. They delay you of going outside to play. And they're always coming loose. Having to stop every fifteen minutes to tie them again. Have you ever wanted to tie your shoe laces while walking with a friend? They never stop and wait. You have to catch up to them once you're done. You tell the guy who works there the shoe that you like. "What size?" he says. But you dont know what to tell him. So he brings out this metal contraption that measures your foot. All the different numbers and lines and pieces confuses you. Even to this day, you're not sure how it works. But you're a 7 now. You went up a whole size. You smile, can't wait to tell everyone. There's some sort of pride with having large feet. More so when you're a kid. "What size are you?" "I'm a ten." "What? No Way! Hey Alex, this guy's a ten!" You put the shoes on, but they don't quite fit well enough. Your mom tells you to stand up and walk around. You do and your heel keeps coming out a tiny bit when you walk. "You just need to get used to them," she says. So you buy them. You put your old shoes in the box and can't help but feel a little sad. Your journey with them is over. You can't even remember what shoes you wore before them. You're astounded by this. Like how you never seem to remember what you ate for dinner two days ago. You'll be carfeul with them for a few days. You wont want to get a single bit of dust on them. You defend them like the king chess piece from kids who want to "shoe shine" you. But eventually, you say the hell with it. And you'll be back in the store a year later.

(How do you use these things!?)

But it doesn't matter right now. Your feet grew. You still feel proud at the back of the car looking out the window. You like looking out the window. You can't wait to tell people. Can't wait to tell the friend who punched you. You wonder what size your feet will stop at. You hope you'll be a ten. Or an eleven.

A year later, it's the same thing again. Except, maybe you like shoes with laces now. They make you look older. But you have a connection with your old, worn, lace-less shoes now. You've forgotten about your old-old shoes completely. The ones you used to hold dear. You never knew shoes could have so much emotion attached to them. But those soon, will be forgotten by a bigger foot.

Okay, stop crying. I know, I know, you want to stay longer, but we must return to the present. We mustn't dwell on the past. Close your eyes and count backwards from five.

Five. Four. Three. Two...One.

(Back to the Future. Loved that movie)

Now look at your shoes. How much you've changed. They used to have lights in them. No Shoe laces. Maybe even wheels. Now they're just normal. No special features to them. Maybe they match your shirt. Everyone loves to match. But, they don't feel special anymore. Hardly any emotion attached to them right? That's because your feet stopped growing. My feet stopped growing. Every shoe from now on will be the same size. Almost repetitive. Like reaching a dull plateau after the hard climb of the mountain. You have no more "up" to go. It's boring at the top of the mountain. No more pride.

(Oh, the things these shoes have seen. This man loved his shoes.)

I hardly go shoe shopping anymore. I've never used that metal contraption since I was a kid. I know now that for the rest of my life, I will be a nine and a half, more or less. I don't even have to go to a shoe store anymore. I used to go because I didn't know my shoe size, but now that I know it for sure, I can just tell someone to pick them up for me. I might tell my brother. He has good taste I think. "Oh you're going to the mall? Pick me up some shoes." "Yes, nine and a half." I hate shoe shopping. I can never decide which one. I wish I could have before me every single pair of shoes I ever wore. Even if I only wore them for a night. Watch them evolve before eachother. Let them speak to eachother. Tell eachother of their journeys. Each pair having walked or ran for miles. Having been there for every occasion, every terrain that I needed them for. For every hopscotch. Every eeny, meeny, miny, moe. Every dance. Every jog.

I wish I could see my very first pair of shoes. The ones I didn't get to choose. I was probably a baby. The first to shield my feet from the rough earth.  And I wonder what my last pair will be. The last to keep me from the ground. Maybe these will be my favorite and most emotion filled, right down to the heel, of them all.


Follow me and my shoes on Twitter.

No comments:

Post a Comment