An Ode to My Shoes

But not just any shoes. These shoes.


To you, they may look like any other ordinary pair of shoes. But to me, these shoes were with me through an era. A few weeks before winter break sophomore year, I was at Goodwill with a good friend. I can’t remember what it was we were looking for exactly, but she ended up leaving with nothing and I ended up leaving with these shoes. I followed her around–a Goodwill stop must have been her idea–and eventually we found our way toward the back of the store next to all the women’s clothing. There was an empty table and sitting atop it were a pair of brown leather boots. Without really thinking, I reached for them to get a closer look. They weren’t too worn in, I noticed, but it seemed as though someone had had them for awhile at least. Flipping open the shoe’s flap (or is it called the tongue?), I found no marking that would tell me their size. They seemed about right though, so I slipped off the shoes I was wearing and slipped on one of the boots.

They were a perfect fit–and comfy too, I was quick to make note. I didn’t really know how much they would cost, but it was Goodwill. They couldn’t be that expensive, but part of me rationalized that since they seemed rather expensive (leather, after all) Goodwill would price them higher. I took them to the register and, between me and my friend, scrounged up three dollars cash. Then, they were mine. Little did I know how much I really wanted or needed a new pair of boots.

And that is how I managed to get the best pair of shoes I’ve ever owned–a little bit of luck, a little bit of good taste, and a just a tiny bit of money.

Sophomore year before winter break would have made the year 2014. The year is now 2018, so these shoes have gotten nearly 4 years of good use. But today I learned that they would need to retired . . . or worn until it was impossible to wear them anymore. Long story short, the good people at George’s Shoe Repair in St. Paul said it would cost over $100 to get them fixed up. As they are now, there are multiple holes in the heel and the threading is coming undone, the soles are wearing thin, the shoelaces are nearly broke (for the second time), and they could really use a good shoe shine.

“Ya want my honest opinion?” the shoe guy asked.

“Definitely,” I said.

“It’s not worth it. It’ll cost just $50 to get the threading around the heel fixed up.”

I chuckled, knowing in the back of my mind that what he said was right but struggling to really accept that fact.

“Yeah,” I said and sighed, a smile on my face, “I think I’m just holding on to the sentimentality of them. They’ve just been through so much!”

“Well,” the shoe guy started to say, raising his hands in a shrug and implying that if they really meant so much, maybe it was worth it.

But it’s not. At such a low investment price, these shoes have far surpassed what I expected them to be.

And here’s the long version of why it’s so hard to let them go. I love them. I feel confident in them. I feel like I can wear them out and I feel like I can wear them on the trail. If I was a shoe, I would be these shoes. They exude a laid back vibe that’s down for relaxing lakeside but can get up and go at the first inkling of an adventure. They are built to last (and if I hadn’t worn them so much, maybe they’d be in better shape). They are best worn in fall–my favorite season–as they tend to get warm during the summer and aren’t the best against rain and snow in spring and winter. I can stand in these for hours without feeling too many aches in my feet and have used them as hiking boots more than a few times. They are lace up, so they are always snug on my feet. A light, golden brown is one of my favorite colors for a shoe, and the coloring on these is juuuuust right. It varies in intensity depending where you look, which shows just how used they’ve been. That said, they go good with just about any casual, flannel-laden outfit.

The short version is these shoes are badass. And I don’t want to have to spend the time and energy to find another pair of equally badass shoes.

Other people seem to love them, too. When I first bought them and started wearing them around, I got compliment after compliment about them. I’d always tout that they were “three dollars from Goodwill,” because I was insanely proud about this amazing steal (still am). They are the Three Dollars From Goodwill shoes. I always joked that if I got a penny for every time I got a compliment about them, I would have made that $3 back.

They were with me as I ventured further into discovering who I am, which is the deep down reason why giving these shoes up is so difficult. I bought these shoes at a time when I was losing a friend to her boyfriend, when my heart was hurting over a boy back home, when I was anxiously awaiting my first days leading outdoor adventure trips, when I was sitting underneath a long leaf pine tapping away on this same keyboard I write on now. It was a period in my life that was full of mixed emotions–the sadness of losing people but also the excitement of embarking on a new journey and continuing my education.

These shoes represent my college years–getting splashed in spilt beer, beach sand stuck in every nook and cranny, salt water lapping up to touch the very tip of the leather edge. Not everywhere I took these shoes was good, though. I stepped in dog shit once, so that happened too.

I am not sure where I will take them next (but hopefully I will steer clear of the dog shit). And hopefully I won’t run them out of commission for a little while longer. They have a few good wears left in them, I know it.

So, a premature goodbye: RIP Three Dollar From Goodwill shoes; best shoes ever; girl’s best friend. You won’t be forgotten.



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