They were a simple pair of black shoes. Nothing fancy. Nothing fabulous. All function. All comfort. I fell in love with them. Or, rather, my Triple F (Fussy, Fat, Flat) Feet fell in love with them. I had to buy them. And, I did.
I have a shoe problem. I can literally spend hours browsing and trying on shoes. Not for fashionable purposes. Rather, all for functional purposes. For as long as I could remember, I had feet problems that were magnified even more after my hip replacement surgery. My feet were too short in length at about 5 1/2, but then too wide. I did not have any arches. My fussy feet were not meant for elegant high heels, cute ballet slippers, or even hip flip-flops. I had to shop at specialty shoe stores where my feet were meticulously measured in length and width, and then I had to whip out my arched orthotics to make sure they fit and were comfortable in the potential shoes for me to walk in. Probably the most frustrating part when it came to shoes, though, was I went through them faster than a bag of potato chips. Because of wrong walking and compensation of a weak leg versus a strong leg growing up, the soles of my shoes wore down and formed holes so quickly (definitely less than a year of me buying a pair of shoes) that I actually go to a shoe repair guy by the name of Tony who listened and bopped his balding head to blasting opera and classical music in his small store while he works his shoe repair magic.
With these ultra comfortable black shoes that were an exciting and unusual combination of stylish sneakers and work shoes, I was sure that it would be different. I was confident that they would last me longer than all the others that had to have been tossed or fixed. My feet fell easily into the molding of the shoes. I felt like Cinderella who had found the perfect fitted shoes. I wore these shoes just about ALL THE TIME. I was so sure about these shoes that I did not hesitate to bring them as my main walking and adventuring shoes for my year-long in advance anticipated and planned two-week long trip to Europe. Naturally, I brought an extra pair of shoes just in case. After all, a girl can never bring enough shoes—especially if they (both shoes and girl, of course!) are adventuring, exploring, and traipsing in unknown and new territories.
For two weeks and in three countries (Hungary, Austria, and Czech Republic) and their respective cities of Budapest, Vienna, and Prague, I lived, breathed, explored, adventured, and, above all else, walked in these shoes. According to my “drama phone” as my friend who I traveled with named my phone, I walked over 22,000 steps every single day. I walked in fairytale castles, artsy museums, and restaurants and cafes filled with sweet and mouth-watering pastries. I walked on and crossed bridges with wind blowing in my hair and the warmth of the sun beating on my back. I walked up and down a total of 200 ladder steps, staring in awe and amazement down below at the endless crowds of people who resembled tiny ants and the storybook buildings. I walked up and down polished and slippery cobblestones in Budapest and Prague. I watched the world and tried to soak up everything and everyone as I walked and kept on walking. I walked so much every single day that my feet hurt so much as the end of the day that I could feel everything in my soul and spirit for all the things I could do now that I could not do before and nothing at the same time from my sharply aching feet. I walked so much that my beloved black shoes that I had put my faith and feet in and that had stepped foot in every possible nook and cranny of Europe I could possibly manage finally fell apart. Literally. The bottoms of the shoes had split open to reveal gaping holes. I cradled the shoes in my hands. A part of me wondered if I should bring them back home to get repaired by Tony. If anyone could repair them, it would be Tony. The larger part of me knew it was time to let go and leave behind the shoes that I had walked in for the certain part of my journey in life. These shoes had lasted me for the little while that had meant a lot in my life bringing me to the places I needed to be in, people I needed to meet and spend time with, and experience what I needed to experience for a particular time in my life. They had served their purpose. They were the shoes that had to be left behind, and I had to be the one to leave them behind.
I have been in those worn down situations where I am unwanted and unneeded and, let me tell you, when you are in those situations then the best and only option (if at all possible) is to leave before being left. Throughout my life, I was accustomed to being left over me leaving first. However, as I stared at my black shoes wondering if I could put them back together again, I realized that there are some things that cannot be put back together again and that the best and only thing to do is to leave it behind. Sometimes we do not have a choice but to leave behind what has to be left behind. It hurts like hell to be left, but now I understand that there is a different kind of pain, hurt, fear, loneliness, and aloneness to being the one to leave first. Leaving behind what is known means looking ahead without really seeing into the unknown. And, how frightening, exhilarating, and thrilling is all of that??
Someone once said to me that it is always better to be the one who leaves than the one who is left. Is this true? When were you left behind? When did you have to leave someone or something behind? Was it a choice of yours Do we really ALWAYS have a choice to leave or to be left behind?
Keep smilin’ until we meet again,