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This old shoe is one of a pair that – tied together by their old, worn laces – hang from the knob on my studio door.

By today’s standards, they are pretty simple – though badly worn out – sneakers.

When they were new, back in the summer of 1972, they were glorious!

White canvas with red and blue vinyl accents, thick white laces, rounded toes. When plain white tennis shoes were the norm, these seemed very special to me.

I had recently become a mother, which changed my life and altered my perceptions more than anything else, ever! It filled my head with ideas. It spurred me to become the best person I could possibly be. My little family had moved to a cottage on Lake Pleasant. My husband and I had big plans for remodeling and modernizing it, for using it as our home base as we raised our family and traveled the world, one adventure after another. I had taken over a corner of the front porch as an area to make art.

I saw myself as a young wife, good mother, creative person, all-good-things-await optimist…with a little hippie, flower-child funkiness thrown in for good measure.

These shoes underlined that image.

I wore them with jeans and shorts and sundresses. I wore them as an irreverent touch with dress slacks. I wore them as I walked with my little daughter as she took her first steps…and for many steps afterward. I wore them as I took my first baby-steps into thinking of myself as an artist.

I wore them until the rubber soles lost their tread and cracked, until the canvas was in shreds, until my perfect little life with all of its “happy ever after” had proven itself to be an average life, with normal struggles.

I’ve lost or tossed away many of the plans and dreams I had as that young optimist.

I never could bring myself to throw away the shoes.

25 responses »

  1. Cindy,

    Once again, this was so beautifully written. I loved every word. It brought tears to my eyes; I too, was born in the early 70s, so I wondered if my own mother is holding on to an object that holds strong memories of young motherhood, her hopes and dreams. As a mom myself, I pondered what my future brings, but then again, I want to soak in all these precious moments with my two little ones. God bless.

    Kristal

    • That was a heady time, when we felt we were thinking thoughts and working for change in ways never heard of before. Maybe all young adults feel the same way? The time you have with your children IS precious, and should be savored. In the blink of an eye, they are grown and gone. The best thing you can do is live in the moment, and cherish every bit of it.
      Thank you for reading, and for your kind comments!

  2. I think this story pretty well sums up the life of many people. I let dreams fall by the way side but then those were replaced with a dream/s of things that were within my realm of achieving.

    I like this story a lot- poignant and so well worded. You do have special talents. Have you tried selling any of your work to some magazines or whatever?

    Regards,
    yvonne

    • Yes, this maybe sounds more sad than it should. Some dreams fall away, others take their place. If there is a wistful feeling, it is for that bright-eyed, hopeful young person I was. Not that it would be helpful or sensible to hang on to that simplistic attitude, but still…
      Thank you for reading, Yvonne, and for your comments!

  3. How lovely and bittersweet. Those shoes are a reminder that we can always dream, even if the dreams of our maturity are different than the dreams of our youth. Well put, and such great drawings.

    • Oh, thanks, Sara…yes, dreams are still there. I think the wide-eyed innocence of youth is gone. I have tended to become more realistic and even cynical over the years…but I think it’s normal to change based on experience.
      Thank you for reading, and for your comments!

      • Lol you are funny!
        Seriously, I read your INCREDIBLY WRITTEN post on the heels (pun intended!) of Dena’s equally incredible post at Floridahoma.wordpress.com and was completely reduced to tears. Go read her post from june 20; I think you’ll understand why reading your posts in tandem was so moving.

  4. Like you Cindy I have always had trouble throwing away shoes. Not dress shoes or those worn occasionally, but those that carried me through changes, travels, and adventures- those that carried me through the chapters of my life. The oldest always seem to be deck shoes on which I did everything from actually sailing to pointing toward the street as my son’s high school band marched by in so many parades,and all those everyday things I did without socks. Then there was the hiking boots I wore around the world, I had stood in them before tables as I haggled over prices at a market place in the Andes, they had protected me from the sharp rocks as I stood in the jungle watching red hot boulders the size of VWs bounce down the side of a volcano in Costa Rica. I had to step out of them and stand in my socks for an hour at JFK while customs disinfected for African soil after finding they had walked the back country of Tanzania. I had worn them doing various disater reliefs for with the Red Cross.
    How can you just throw them out? I use to save this footwear until I had a tree to plant and bury them deep beneath the roots. I don’t know if it was simply the rotting leather or their rich experiences, I always chose to believe the latter, but those trees always seemed to grow faster and taller. Of late when these vessels have finally walked to the end of their journey I’ve moved to throwing them up into the branches of the “shoe tree” near Kalkaska where I picture them hanging with so many other stories and imagine them sharing their experiences.

    • They do seem to take on the life of their experiences, don’t they? When I see them hanging there, I can summon back that heady feeling that all of life was ahead of me, that anything was possible, that I was standing on the threshold of a million wonderful surprises…very naive, but I miss that person, with her wide-eyed innocence.
      Thank you for reading, and for your comments!

  5. Very poignant–both the sketches and your writing. You taught me something here. I have never felt like a person who looks at a physical object to call back memories of other times. Yet, for the first time, I can now understand why people save and revere simple objects. It’s the feeling in them. It’s the energy a person wants to call back, to momentarily encompass or mourn or embrace. Thank you, Cindy.

    • It is an honor to me to have taught anything to anyone. To have opened your eyes – you, who seem so advanced in the “awareness” category – to anything is high praise indeed! Thank you! You are exactly right…those shoes remind me of the person I was when I wore them. I wouldn’t want to bring her back, giving up all the wisdom and life-awareness I’ve gained since, but I love her just the same, for all her bright-eyed wonder at the world ahead.

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