This week I bought new sneakers.
You have no idea what a big deal this is.
Way back in the 8th grade, I used to play basketball. (On the “B” team, don’t get excited. Our season record was 1-11, and the one was a game I missed due to injury). And in order to play, I needed proper sneakers.
So, I saved my money. For a long time. I babysat every chance I got to earn some money, piled wood for my grandparents, begged, borrowed. I finally had enough to get the sneakers I wanted – they were an astronomical amount of money at the time, $140.
I wore them exactly three times before they got stolen out of my gym locker at school.
Apparently I hold a grudge, because that was it. As I sat in the local running store the other day being fitted, it dawned on me that I haven’t bought a pair of sneakers since. I have a pair of ill-fitting Sketchers I found when I helped clean out my nanny’s things after she died. I’ve had ballet flats and clogs and army boots and flip flops and even a pair of silver platform sandals, but no more actual sneakers.
When I laced on the third suggested pair at the store on Tuesday, it was like… walking on clouds made of dead cherubim, or something. I felt taller. I felt like I could run faster (I couldn’t. But I felt like I could, and that was cool). I bounced on the balls of my feet and wiggled my toes and felt ready to take on the universe.
I’ve been wearing my new sneakers pretty well without pause since. I caught a look at myself in a store window yesterday – jeans, t-shirt, sneakers, two year old clinging to my hand – and thought holy shit, I turned into my mother. When the fuck did THAT happen? But dammit, I was comfortable. No pains in my feet, no stiff knees at the end of the day.
If my thirties means I have to put aside the cute shoes until special occasions present themselves, well, that’s kind of sad. In my head, despite everything that’s happened in the last decade, I still feel like “my thirties” are a way off yet, not two years gone. It’s weird that a simple thing like buying a pair of sneakers got me thinking about aging, and self-image. I certainly wasn’t expecting that when I walked in the door of the store.
For some reason, they gave me a free bag of salted nuts with my sneakers. I don’t know why. It seems an odd cross-promotion for a store that sells a healthy lifestyle. As a mark of how my approach to food has changed, I haven’t opened the bag. A couple of months ago, I’d have eaten the entire contents that morning, before even putting the sneakers on.
What article of clothing means “all grown up” to you? Do you have one? Is there some item you used to love but finally had to put aside? And do you still wish you could pull it out when you hit the town? Or am I the only one who still pines for the shoes I wore to my high school prom?