On an old pair of shoes

Does it bother you when you have to toss out an old pair of shoes? There they sit in the corner of the closet or entry way, all battered, holey and worn out. The sole is torn and wasted, ragged and broken, cracked and wizened from years of use. They have been around the world more than once–Chicago, New York, London, Madrid, Paris, Waco, and now they no longer keep out the water. In fact, it is only the duct tape which is even keeping them on your feet. They are stained and worn, a million creases on a pair of ancient faces. The cobbler says, “Buy a new pair.” Yet, these shoes know every bone and callus and blister your feet have ever had. You’ve been through the rain in San Francisco, the snow in Minneapolis, the sand in Siesta Key, the parking lot at the grocery store in Waco, the mud along the Mississippi River. You’ve scraped dog pooh, bubble gum, tar, mud, and unknown sticky solids from their soles and they still kept your feet safe. You have put them through the x-ray machines in a hundred airports. You secretly put a fifty dollar bill under the insole for years in case of trouble. They were once forgotten in a hotel room in Kansas City, but they came back in the mail a week later. You have carried them along beaches on all of the world’s continents except Antarctica. One time, you spilled whiskey on them. You have replaced the laces more times than you can count. They are stained with the sweat of your own perspiration, walking in deserts, dusty roads, and city sidewalks. They have been resoled, restitched and remade, but now the leather is breaking down and you can’t fix them anymore. You have light blue paint on these shoes from that time you volunteered to help your sister paint her kitchen. There they sit like a couple of old dogs who are so old they can’t move anymore, but they don’t complain either. You have other shoes in better shape that know your feet just as well. It’s not like can’t afford a new pair of shoes either. There are bad holes in these old shoes. You suspect that they are molding a bit. Your feet got wet the last time you put them on to go to the grocery store in a down pour. People might start to think you are a vagrant if you continue to wear these shoes. You put them in a plastic grocery sack and carry them out to the garage, closer to the garbage bin than you feel comfortable with, but you have no choice. You are secretly hoping that your spouse will do the dirty for you, and that the bag with the old shoes will find its way into the trash while you are away at work. You hope you never see them again, but the memories you have of those old shoes will not fade or go away, the heroes of a thousand battles.