Tuesday, June 17, 2014

An Ode to Old Shoes *Updated*

I (re)discovered the most perfect song for this story. OMG, how did I forget about this?! I went to the Mr Cat & The Jackal album launch last night (amazing doesn't even begin to describe it!!!) and they played this song, and I was just like 'Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaait a minute....' So, here ya go. Give this a listen while you read this story. It's just a perfect combination. 

A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned my trusty old FILAs in this post. God, those shoes! 

They’ve been through things, and seen things I can’t even remember (mostly due to debauchery and drunkenness, but also because it’s impossible to remember everything that’s happened in ten years.) I have loved those shoes like babies, and they’ve never let me down. Well… things changed last weekend. But I’ll come to that. 

I bought these babies for R130, ten years ago (almost to the day, now that I think about it!), at the Oriental Plaza. Moderately dodgy, maybe, but well worth it. If I work out cost per wear so far (which is how girls usually justify expensive shoes, not el cheapos), it must be down to a matter of cents. 

From the first day, I practically lived in the damn things. They were always my go-to shoes, for pretty much any occasion. (I even considered wearing them for my wedding, but changed my mind when Mama Boo and The Ex shot that idea down in shouting flames.) Off to the shops? Trusty takkies. Family do? Yep. Night out, filled with dancing and debauchery? Obviously!! Even when our cleaning lady damaged the canvas when she tried to bleach the rubber caps, they stayed and ‘developed more personality’. 

If shoes could be used to chronicle a life, these would result in volumes. They were there when Daddy died, and when I had a gun held to my head (I distinctly remember thinking ‘Just look at your shiny new shoes and not at his face, and you’ll be fine.’) They were the shoes I was wearing when The Ex proposed, and the day my divorce came through. They saw the inside of dodgy clubs, doctors’ rooms*, dozens of concerts, shopping malls, airports and planes, funeral homes, churches, abandoned hospitals, and countless other attractions. They saw numerous Park Acoustics, nature reserves, cross-border game drives, the streets of Sydney, and hundreds of local beaches and markets. They got me through at least a dozen house moves (I shit you not. There have been more than 2 dozen in my mere 28-and-a-bit years, but that’s another story!), and so many important and not-so-important events I literally don’t have enough space in my head to remember them all. They even outlasted my marriage, making them one of my longest-lasting relationships! 

And now… they’re gone. *sniff* (I’m taking a moment here, guys. You may need to grab a Kleenex for the next part…) 
I wore them on the day I left Joburg, and they facilitated my first contact with Cape Town. That night, Mama Boo glanced at my feet, and a gasp of recognition burst forth. ‘Are those the same old Plaza takkies you’ve had for years?’ she yelped. ‘The very same,’ I replied proudly. Apparently I’d mistaken her yelp as one of joyous recognition. Her next comment remedied that. ‘NO, Shell! I cannot believe you still have those, let alone wear them. No, no, no. They’ve got to go.’ My face fell. ‘They go, I go.’ Nobody said ugly things about my babies! That didn’t stop Mama Boo from pulling very amusing faces and sighing in frustration every time I pulled the Trusties on, though. 

Then, last Saturday, we finally had some gorgeous weather. And, after my griping the night before**, we headed off to the beach. Mama took me to the spot where she scattered my grandparents’ ashes, and we sat and took in the glorious beach and view for aaaaaaages. It was exactly what I needed. Unfortunately (in this case, anyway), I’m still a real Vaalie at heart, and so I only took off my shoes (the Trusty Takkies were the obvious choice) once I was on the Actual Beach. I strung the laces together and threw them over my shoulder, and strolled through the icy West Coast water barefoot. It was amazing, and quite an interesting experience when the cold made my feet so numb I couldn’t feel them anymore. 
Eventually, we started back to the car, for the sake of a proper pee (I was NOT having a pee in that sea – it would make a solid pee-cicle***, and I wasn’t risking it). We must have walked for a good half hour, and were almost at the car when a horrible realisation hit me. Something was missing. I spun around searching for the Trusties, but they weren’t over my shoulder, and they were nowhere I could see. They must have fallen off my shoulder**** where we were sitting at the G-Force’s Ashes Spot*****, and I didn’t realise. By the time we had got back to the car, the tide was coming in fast and strong, and I knew that if I tried to go back to the spot, a) I’d pee in my pants (warm, yes, but still not an appealing option), and b) the tide would likely have taken them by the time I got there. So I had a little moment of pricking tears (I am not even fucking kidding), and decided that ten years was a good run, and we’d seen a lot together, but maybe this was part of my Fresh Start, and maybe it was the Universe trying to make me let go of things. Lesson painfully learnt, Universe. 

I have since bought a new pair of shell-toes, but they’ll never be my old Trusties. While similar, and effective, they’ll never live up, and we can’t (yet) laugh together over some of the things we’ve seen. In time, sure. But there will only ever be one pair of Trusty Takkies, and they’re somewhere in the icy Atlantic Ocean now.****** They will be missed, and remembered with fondness (except by Mama Boo, who said that me losing them was the best birthday present she got. Puts the money spent on Actual Gifts in perspective, no?) 

* Not entirely unrelated, in many cases, to aforementioned dodgy clubs
** (To the tune of ‘This is officially the most beautiful city in the WORLD, and what have I seen of it since I got here? Pubs and bars and back seats of cars. I could be back in Joburg for this. Natural beauty, this weekend, or I’m going home.’ Yes, you’re right in thinking I’m a brat, but that doesn’t take away the validity of my argument.)
*** A pee icicle, obviously
****I’m not unconvinced that Mama Boo didn’t assist them in ‘falling off my shoulder’. Ahem. 
*****When we had a house full over over-70’s, we referred to them collectively as the Geriatric Force, or G-Force
******If you are the lucky finder of a scrappy pair of FILA takkies, found on Milnerton beach, hit me up. Those babies have at least another 5 years in them!