Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Make New Friends...

Make new friends, but keep the old.
One is silver, the other... blue and green camoflauge.

In my life, I have been very, very lucky in love. Each and every chapter of my personal history has a cast of characters who have been loyal, interesting, and loving. Some of these relationships have faded into history, some have ended abruptly and for a reason, and some have endured the tests of time and challenge. Today, one of my most cherished relationships ended - and I owe it to myself to pay homage to my loyal comrade: my blue and green camoflauge flip flops.

The story starts a long time ago. I was heavily pregnant with my daughter when I played host to my aunt and her son, my cousin. My aunt (you must understand this part of the story in order to comprehend the next) is the single most generous person I have ever met. She would literally give you the shirt off her back. While she was at my house she gave me a large can of professional quality hairspray, two bracelets off her wrist, brought all of the kids gifts and purchased all of our meals while she stayed. We had a nice week and before long, they were gone. When I went into her room after she left to change the sheets and tidy up, I found that she had left a pair of black flip flops under the bed. I slipped them on my feet and our relationship began.

We had a good thing going on for a while, me and those black flip flops. We went everywhere together. At first I felt so guilty for keeping them, I even went online to order my own pair and send the originals to their rightful owner. But, when I discovered that they cost more than $50 (they were flip flops, mind you) I justified keeping them by figuring that my aunt would probably just give them to me if she knew how much I loved them. Hey, she gave me her hairspray, right? Every time I wore those shoes I loved them more, but like anything that is not really yours, I felt a pinge of guilt when I wore them. When I looked at them, I wondered if they were missed by their owner. I didn't really care. They were soft and delicious on my tired feet.

Soon after I gave birth to my daughter, I paid a trip home to visit my family. Of course, I brought with me my ill-gotten shoes. They would be the perfect for travelling. I wore them boldly, brashly in front of my family always hoping that nobody would notice. On the last day of my trip, my aunt pointed to my feet and declared, "ARE THOSE MY SHOES?" I admitted it and painfully, heartbreakingly parted with my - her shoes. Yes, she took them back.

My heart was broken. My feet suffered. I had to wear my nice shoes on the trip home and I had no idea how I was going to proceed. When I got home there was a white grocery bag on my doorstep with a note, "You're going to love these." Inside were a new pair of blue and green camoflauged flip flops - and as if sent by heaven by way of my girlfriend - a new relationship began. But this time it was for real - these babies were mine.

It was love from the first try-on. These shoes feel like walking on marshmallows on top of pillows on top of clouds. They feel like going barefoot but better. They have never stretched out no matter how often I've worn them and I have worn them a lot. But unlike the fancy black flip flops my aunt reclaimed, these suckers aren't pretty. I have had to endure scorn and public ridicule for my choice in footwear. People with more fashion and more vanity that I have called me out. "Get some new shoes!" they scoff. Not until the soles of my feet are dragging on the ground.

And so my flip flops have gone everywhere with me. I have worn them elegantly with a sundress or functionally with socks under my jeans. They have hiked in the Shenandoah, sunned in the beaches of North Carolina and comforted me every step of my journey of life. To say that I treasure these shoes is to understate: they have become a part of me.

Lately my beloveds have shown signs of wear and I have feared for their demise. I have gone to various department stores to try and replace them, but to no avail. After a day or so of suffering through discomfort, I dig out my camo shoes and our relationship endures another day. But this weekend, the final straw. The places where they are ripped have started to drag on the ground causing me to lose my balance and trip - and when it comes to my own well-being, not to mention the well-being of my precious unborn child - well, the decision was made. The time has unfortunately come.

It was only apropos that it was drizzly and grey this morning when we set out for the shopping mall to find replacement shoes. We battled the rain and finally got to the destination where I had been assured that I would find a comparable replacement. I walked in tentatively, feeling a bit like I was perusing eHarmony after the death of my spouse. Slowly but surely I began to try on shoes and finally stumbled on a sweet pair of silver Mary Janes that gave me that same feeling of ahhhhh that lovers past have offered. My feet melted into them. I think this is the start of a wonderful relationship.

The sun was out when we left the shopping center. The rays glinted off the silver and especially sparkled when touched by the leftover rain from this morning's shower. Goodbye old friends, I thought. Goodbye.


Christi said...

Sharon, I too have parted with our "blue and green friends".

Mine were also ripped and causing me to trip which was driving my husband batty, so....into the trash they went to save my marriage..sniff, sniff. Truly I have never loved a pair of shoes more. And if you ever find them...buy me a pair, please!..but sshh, don't tell my sister, she thought they were ugly as sin! :o)

Sharon Kieffer Steele said...

Oh yeah. In case you are interested, one part of the story that didn't make it into the first edit was that my friend who bought the shoes also bought some for herself and our other dear friend. So the three of us all had matching shoes and we all loved them with the same passion. RIP.

Christi - I am sorry to hear that you have parted ways, too. I will tell you in person where I got my replacements. It is worth the tip - that is if I ever get to talk to you again. *sob* Where did the good old days go where we used to pop bon-bons, talk on the phone, and watch soap operas all day. (kidding) But seriously, I hope to talk to you someday in the future. When that day will be? I don't know.

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