Farewell to a friend (well, a couple)

In my life I’ve formed attachments to very few things.

I am weirdly devoted to a bicycle I bought more than 25 years ago in Colorado. The first year I had it, I bonded with it over the MS 150, a ride from Denver to the Royal Gorge that was a fundraiser for the National MS Society. It is a red, Specialized Hardrock mountain bike. After I bought it, a friend mocked me, tongue in cheek, “Don’t you know you should never buy a bike just for its color and its model name?” Ha. Must completely disagree. There is nothing better and faster than a red bike, nothing cooler than “Hardrock.” Last year I spent more to repair it than I probably paid when I bought it. (Hoping my husband fails to read this post, because that statement will send him on a mission to find out whether that is true. He did make fun of me when I got it fixed last year: “What is it with you and that bike?”)

After never being a car person in my life (I’d owned exactly two by the time I was 53, one for 13 years and the other for 18) I bought a car that simply speaks to me. Is it a fancy car? Not at all. It’s a Hyundai Elantra. Even the cheapest cars have come so far since I bought my previous one 18 years earlier it seems like absolute luxury. Automatic windows (I know, I KNOW), Bluetooth, heated seats, a sun roof. It has borne the brunt of my daughter learning to drive, but I love that stupid car.

Heading into the weekend, I know must replace an object–or more specifically, objects–that I’ve become similarly connected with. I have to buy new sneakers.

My shoes, facing retirement.

I bought my current pair in November. Buying shoes is often traumatic because I have very wide and, by today’s standards, quite small feet. I usually go in and try on everything, then pick the pair that feels the least bad. When I shopped in November, I completed that process but, surprisingly, actually found a pair of New Balance walking shoes that felt darned good.

I was a bit skeptical at first. They were very lightweight and it seemed to me that there was not much to the shoe itself. The primary technology being deployed in the shoes appeared, basically, to be shoelaces. But I bought them and brought them home. I laced them up and took them on a maiden walk around the neighborhood to decide whether they’d cut it for my upcoming trip to Washington, DC. I came back happy.

I swear that I’ve never done this before: I said out loud to my new shoes, “You and I are going places, my friends.”

And I’m pretty sure they nodded.

So I took them to Washington, DC, where I walked all around our capital. Took them to New York and waltzed through Manhattan. They came to Kentucky with me at Thanksgiving where I wandered all over Danville. Assuming “all over” means I went to the Hub cafe for coffee and to Wilma’s Pies for You and Cookies Too. (We had pie.)

They’ve walked to the train in Lombard and from the train to work in Chicago five days a week. They’ve been on the Illinois Prairie Path and all around Olympic Park in Schaumburg.

Riding the Prime Meridian

I’ve worn them to London four times. They’ve seen Big Ben, the houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey. They’ve ridden the London Eye, walked all over Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. I’ve worn them in Hyde park, at Craven Cottage, at The Royal Albert Hall. They’ve been in the Cutty Sark and stood over the Prime Meridian.

They’ve been in too many pubs to count.

They have toured the Emirates, stood in the locker room and on the edge of the pitch. They’ve been in the press rooms. With my shoes on my feet, I’ve attended matches at the Emirates. They were witness to sad days, the Champions League loss to Barcelona, the FA Cup loss to Watford. They were present for some good times, there when we beat Manchester City. They jumped up and down with glee when Danny Welbeck drove that header into the net in virtually the last play of the Leicester City match.

They have one annoying habit, particularly for shoes that, as I stated, seem to have shoelaces as their prime technology: the shoelaces come untied with annoying regularity.

I love them anyway.

It’s very easy to know when shoes lose their important shoe qualities. When I walked all over Washington, DC again last week, I could tell that they were done for. My legs and ankles were hurting, clearly not just because I’d walked quite far, but because my shoes weren’t offering the same level of support.

The time has clearly come: tomorrow I must shop for new walking shoes and do what I almost always do with my old walking shoes.

I turn them into gardening shoes.

This prompted me to wonder, just how many “gardening” shoes do I already have? I submit the following to the jury.


Now, am I a big gardener such that I need 7 pairs of gardening shoes?

Er, not really. If I spend 10 days working in the garden across the six months that it’s not freezing in Illinois, that’s one amazing gardening year!

I wondered how many dress shoes I have and pulled them out. You do the count.

That’s right–three. Two are black. I only wear the pair on the left.

While I was digging through the closet, I also found these.


My soccer shoes. I bought them shortly after moving to Illinois, thinking I’d play as much as I did in Denver. They look practically brand new even though they are more than 20 years old.

Just now, I got rid of four of my “gardening shoes.” (Realistically I should get rid of two more.)

And I put my current walking shoes in the closet in preparation for their future not-so-strenuous gardening life.

I put my soccer shoes back in the closet, too.

Silly, really. I’ll celebrate my 56th birthday next week. Am I going to start playing soccer again any moment now?

Hope springs eternal.

One thought on “Farewell to a friend (well, a couple)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s