Wandering Soles

I threw out my shoes today. This was not an easy decision, nor one rendered simple through the enforced time pressures that come with the intersection of an end of lease and the start of transcontinental wanderings. Skipped over in the flurry of labelling, stay, or, go, with red and green post-its and the song playing in the background. Siempre - coqueteando y engañando.

I loved those shoes. They came into my possession through a campaign to encourage under-thirties to sign up to private health insurance, before we were stung by the looming spectre of an increasing year-by-year loading that I didn’t really understand, but about which I always received raised eyebrows and tutted tuts whenever I (sporadically) did my tax. When and why it became a good idea make healthcare decisions based on a tax status, I don’t know, but I guess it seems more responsible than doing the same based on free shoes.

They were very nice shoes, however. Shiny, pearlescent black, with the texture and colour of mood rings that gradually shifted through that very narrow band of colours reserved for science textbooks and weather maps. An isobarometric front cresting across my arches toward the heel. Of course, this effect lasted for approximately a week until I jumped in a puddle and they settled on their default: a bluish tinged black.

But they were comfortable, and they travelled well, and by the time the first soles had worn down they stomped through ten countries. I gave them to a cobbler in Shanghai and he glued new soles right on top of the old ones. This allowed me to wobble through another year or so until the tops came apart, a minor defect that was quickly rectified by an old man with needle and thread on a station platform in Jodhpur.

The third soles came from the woman who sat on Sathorn road, just next to the Embassy of the Holy See in Bangkok, who carried with her a bewildering array of shoe-mending products and spread them in scrupulously arranged piles across a torn blue tarpaulin. She called my shoes filthy, but mended them anyway, and by the time I got them back they’d traveled to more than twenty countries.

Now they’re on their final adventure, in a green bin stuffed with food scraps and garden waste, and I’ve got some new kicks. These ones glow in the dark and are every bit as ridiculous as the ones that came before. Long may they reign, or at least until I find my first puddle.