I was looking for boots at the time she arrived. Punk rock pink hair and a sense of salesmanship that keeps lines long at carny rides, she convinced me.
“Buy these boots.” They were Doc Martins, not the standard type I remember from my youth, but a thin, instantly comfortable brown leather type with thinner rubber air soles and lacking that classic waffle iron stomp tread.
She said it again, “Buy these boots.”
And so I did.
I took them home, lacing up the rivets, my new daily task, and began. I walked, I hiked, I drank, shit and drove in those boots. Up and down the highest mountains in North Carolina, Mt. Mitchell, the Smokies. I walked to town and plotted my revenge against complacency.
In those boots I purchased an Airstream and then renovated it, turquoise and brown paint splattered all across. They pushed pedal to metal as one van couldn’t pull that old tin trailer’s worth of our life up a hill, and they stood proudly beneath me when I had to buy a new tow vehicle.
They’ve been to Hollywood, Florida and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula; the Badlands and Vancouver; Banff to the Redwoods. Pacific Oceans and Pennsylvania fires alike have tarnished their soles, tube after tube of Shoe Goo has been expended.
Yes, they’re just a pair of boots. But they’re also the single thing I’ve had at my side, the key sole possession, that’s been there through everything above. And that was simply one year of life. Twelve months of living every day inside of the same boots, from Atlantic to Pacific, back east to out west, they’ve achieved something beautiful.
I’ll wear them for a few months longer. Soon I’ll trade the rainforest of the Pacific Northwest for the southwestern deserts, and no doubt find cowboy boots appealing again.
The rain and wet will be gone. Hiking will come into high fashion. Times will change.
For tonight though, I pay a simple tribute to a pair of boots, former cattle and rubber gone my companion for quite the adventures.
That paint from renovating the Airstream has long gone washed away under scourge of mighty Tetons and massive city streets alike, but we both know it was there.
A thousand miles in a year’s worth of rawhide goes to mean something more than just another buy at the shoe store. There is nothing quite like utterly wearing out the soles of your boots to remind you that you are indeed living life well.