Thursday, July 16, 2015


The day: Today

The time: 7:55 AM

The place: The sidewalks of campus, half a mile from my car and half a mile from my office

The situation: The soles of my shoes are on the sidewalk.

Soles (1)

The soles of my shoes are not on my shoes.

Soles (2)

Those photos are a dramatic recreating of 7:55 AM, which I took on my way back to the car much later today. At 7:55 AM, I was too busy freaking out about the fact that my shoes were disintegrating as I walked across campus.

I used to be very fashionable. I had closets and closets full of clothes, and still own most of them even though I don't fit into them at the moment. I had belts, and watches, and jewelry, and jackets and coats and sometimes hats, and at one point I had somewhere around 20 or so pairs of shoes that were in regular use. I might wear two or three different outfits in one day depending on my itinerary, because I was a hall director and lived where I worked and could run home to change if plans changed by walking across the lobby.

I ironed my shirt before I wore it to the mall.

I had an Express card.

Among the 20 or so pairs of shoes there were a few that I especially loved, including my steel toed Doc Martens, my brown Cole Haan ankle boots, and my J Crew buck Oxfords. I wore the hell out of those buck Oxfords, and always referred to them as my buck Oxfords to differentiate them from the ones I had in other colors. I don't know if "buck" actually is a legitimate color, but there was a stretch in my twenties when I automatically described all colors according to the hues in a J Crew catalog. My sweaters came in Lake and Moss and Charcoal, my shirts in Sky and Butter and Ketchup, and those Oxfords, which should probably just have been called Taupe, were instead Buck.

I loved my buck Oxfords, but one day my buck Oxfords wore out, because J Crew made cheap shoes that only lasted a season.

I mourned the loss of my buck Oxfords by searching and searching until I found a similar pair. They had to be leather, but not shiny leather. Suede was ok, although it meant I could only wear them on sunny days. J Crew stopped making the buck Oxfords after my pair wore out, so I couldn't just order another, and I didn't want to order shoes online because I needed to see them in person and make sure they were the exact shade of buck Oxford to match the vintage London Fog jacket that I stole from my father's closet since he never wore it anyway and it was a fantastic coat. Eventually, I found a pair of similar shoes made by Timberland, and decided they were close enough to my beloved buck Oxfords.

Buck oxfords.

They're great shoes, right?

I haven't worn them since about 2005, because they got too tight and I couldn't fit my feet into them. They've been sitting in my closet all this time, just waiting for the day when they might live again, and that day was today. Last night I went to the shoe store to find some new black work shoes, because I wore out another pair. Not having black work shoes means I can't wear black pants to work, and that severely limits my outfit options. I just bought my last pair of black shoes a few months ago, but a few months of constant walking on sidewalks and uncarpeted floors at work for several miles each day tends to kill them pretty quickly, and I went a little too cheap last time so they didn't last nearly as long.

Fashionable me would never have bought such cheap shoes to begin with, but older me has slightly different priorities.

When I was trying work shoes on last night, I started with a pair of size 10. This has been my size for a few months, so I thought it was still my size, but one of the things that people don't ever mention about losing a lot of weight is that you will lose it in strange places, like your feet. When I started my fitness journey last July, I wore a size ten and a half shoe. As of last night, I wear a nine and a half. I put the size tens on first and thought, Why are these so loose? Are they too big? Maybe I should try a nine and a half? Could I have lost a half a shoes size?


And this morning, they did.

I hauled them out of the closet, checked them against today's planned outfit, and laced those babies back up because, damn it, I am thinner now. I can wear things that I used to love wearing. I am changing my life, and I am on the road to wearing the shirt hanging on my wall. I parked my car a mile from my office, straightened my messenger bag (it has to hang a certain way so that it doesn't interfere with the movement of my right arm, where my Fitbit is, or else the steps won't count), and started to hike across the entire length of campus to the office, ready to face my day.

It never occurred to me that my shoes haven't just been sitting idle in a closet for ten years, but have instead been slowly dry-rotting all through their soles.

About halfway to my office I felt like I was walking on something weird with my left foot, like I'd stepped on a stick or a piece of wire and it was somehow tangled around the bottom of my shoe. I looked down, and everything looked fine, but on my next step I felt it again. Annoyed, I gave a hard kick to shake off whatever it was, and the entire bottom of my shoe went flying down the sidewalk. Stupidly, I blinked at it for a minute, confused.

Did my shoe just fall apart? How am I going to walk around all day if one shoe has a heel and the other doesn't?

Fortunately the problem solved itself, sort of. As I walked up the sidewalk toward the sole of my left shoe, the sole of the right one fell off, too.

I wanted to laugh, but I also had no idea what to do.

How do I go to work with no shoes?

I should probably go home and get new shoes.

The car is half a mile from here. Also, by the time I get back to the car, get home, get new shoes, get back to campus, and then walk to the office I'll be late for my first meeting.

What the hell am I supposed to do now?

I did what any rational, practical person would do: I picked up the soles of my shoes, put them in my messenger bag, and walked six and a half miles at work and the grocery store today in shoes that had no soles:


Now I just have to take them to the shoe store and get them re-soled, because they are my buck Oxfords.

And I fit into them again.

1 comment:

Marcheline said...

Oh, Joel... I feel for you! As a person who would be shunned by all the "dress this way" television shows because I still have clothes that I wore over 20 years ago, I know the feeling of watching a beloved item of outerwear bite the dust.

As for shoes? I have one word for you: FLUEVOG!

Google them. Srsly.