It’s a sad day for me. I’ve had to retire my gym shoes. I remember the day I found them at DSW – black Reeboks in lightweight mesh. The clunky soles were bright traffic stripe yellow and the lining in shocking pink showed as a tasteful accent circling the ankle. It was love at first sight. They cost $100 – more than I ever dreamed of spending on shoes. I overcame my congenital tightwadness and never looked back.
They were a big hit at the Parkinson’s PWR Gym. My Mah Jongg friends were impressed. And one day I was walking in the mall when the vendors were setting up their kiosks and a young dude called out, “Hey, lady! Cool shoes!” and gave me two thumbs up. Life doesn’t get much better than that.
They were with me on the treadmill and on dog walks. They were with me hiking with Polly in Bryce Canyon. They were with me in Zhumba class.
Some years ago a friend gave me a copy of Ilene Beckerman’s Love, Loss and What I Wore, an autobiography told through some of her most memorable outfits. It resonated with me. It brought back memories of my own: The ash rose dress with puff sleeves and buttoned tabs that came in a box from Grandma Butch when I was three or so; the shoe roller skates I saved my babysitting money for months to buy and much later discovered they weren’t a matched pair; the faux black leather dress I wore and wore and wore in the sixties with my black patent leather boots, the LL Bean bathrobe that was the perfect size, weight, design, function, color and comfort that I wore until it literally began to fall off in pieces.
Every one of you can probably rummage around in your memory or your closets and come up with your own stories. John had a favorite blue plaid shirt he called “Old Blue” that he wore until it became so thin and soft you could read the headlines of the newspaper through it. We must have bought a dozen blue plaid shirts, hoping to repeat the magic, but it could not be replaced.
Lately I have been aware that my cool gym shoes were showing signs of aging. They were taking on the shape of my incipient bunions. The bright yellow soles were wearing on one side and looking a little faded and dingy. My littlest piggy was threatening to break through a thinning in the mesh. They were definitely listing to the starboard and no longer supporting my gait in Postural Fitness Class.
So I went back to DSW and bought new ones. But they’re just gym shoes. Nothing that will make a young dude call, “Hey, lady! Cool shoes.”
Coming of Age by Rosemary Rawson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.