Scuffed and worn by the weight and pace of getting by and getting there, luster long lost, barely recognizable against their former new out-of-the-box perfection, there’s nothing like a pair of aged old shoes the way we used to wear them.
My oldest memories of shoes have them of leather, bought in an old-fashioned shoe store in the middle of the thriving downtown, back when downtown was where everybody shopped.
We polished them every Sunday, and wore those same shoes until they started coming apart at or getting holes in the soles, or the lining wore out or the stitches at the toe started splitting.
We would toss them in a paper sack and carry them down to the shoe repair shop in Woodlawn——a place whoseÂ smell I remember as well is that of the store where we bought them.
A few days later, we picked them up looking practically new, and the only reason we stopped wearing a pair of shoes eventually was that our feet outgrew them.
Not lost to the metaphor as I remember where my feet have been, here I sit at the beginning of a new year of life–scuffed and worn but serviceable, with new stitches, and life left here beyond the repair shop——not quite good as new. But then, not in need of breaking in, either. I’m as comfortable as an old shoe with my lot, a good fit in my time and place, with a few more miles left in me, at a bit slower pace,Â and taking a little more care with each step.
But I’m fortunate. A lot of old shoes simply get pitched into a bin when they show wear, ignored, housed together anonymously, with other marginalized old shoes. The pity, since so many are still worthy of good life with a little love.
I’d like to think I’m an old Red Wings boot of a guy, still nice to have sitting ready at the back door, improving with age, new stitching and all.