I Own a Pair of Shoes I Will Never Throw Away

Spring cleaning is quickly sneaking up on me and I've recently found myself wanting to purge, de-clutter and complete long-considered DIY projects. Clothing and footwear tend to be the primary sources of my clutter, but there is one pair of booties that will never go in any pile other than "to keep."

My love affair with a pair of grey leather ankle booties began during my senior year of high school. I took a trip to DSW on a mission to find the perfect travel shoes for my first trip outside of the country. My criteria? They had to be cute, comfortable and capable of withstanding many miles. At the time of purchase, I had no idea how many miles they would actually travel and how attached I would become.

Where have they been?

London, Paris, Florence, Assisi, Rome (2014)
London, multiple places in Wales, Belfast, Edinburgh, the Scottish Highlands, Seattle (2018)

Amidst the travel these shoes have experienced, the soles wore thin. The heel was separated from the leather, the toes were near to doing the same, and they killed my feet if I walked more than a mile. Yet I refused to stop wearing them or throw them away. When my mother came to visit me during my semester in Wales, she was appalled by the condition of my traveling shoes. Before she left, she insisted on buying me a new pair. They were a gorgeous blue pair of Clarks, but they didn't feel right; they were too tight, too stiff and too new.

"Why are you still wearing them?!" 

I suppose it's the sentimental value; the first pair of shoes that went outside of the United States with me. The first soles to touch foreign soil, the first toes to bound down the streets of London. And when they did travel along with me for those firsts, they were holding up the version of myself that maybe wasn't the best version, and definitely not the version I am now, but the first version to understand the thrill of travel.

That's the true value behind these dirty old shoes; they have seen me at my worst and my best. When I disrespected my mother as a high school senior for something as simple as wanting to snap a photo and when I finally found the courage as a twenty-two-year-old to conquer a weekend trip alone in the UK. If travelers were still children, their shoes would be like their childhood teddies or blankies.

Where are they now?

My traveling shoes haven't traveled much recently, but the repair job done by the Welsh cobbler has held up well. They're currently on a shelf by my bed, waiting for their next adventure and the next chapters of who I am and who I'm becoming.

I could connect my story of the traveling shoes to sustainable living, fashion or minimalism, but the truth is I just love these booties! If they ever get to a point past repair, I will put them in a shadow box along with my tickets and trinkets from all the places they've been. Or, maybe, I will just let them retire that way, anyway. 

Do you have a sentimental item in your life you refuse to part with, even during spring cleaning? Let's chat about it in the comments!


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