Here’s the thing about shoes, they’ll walk the miles with or without you. I don’t know where these sandals have been. They’re not Gucci, so I don’t worry about taking them down dusty roads to the youth camp where we met, in the woods near a lake. They’re not even sale rack status at the Nordstrom on State Street, so I wear them when I play in the rain, even if the mud spills over from the lawn and dirties the bottoms, cakes onto the soles when they dry. They have a Nike swoosh on the thick rubber strap, but the strap broke away from the soles years ago and we nailed it back together, together. It may have been the last thing we did—together. Usually kids use duct tape for these kinds of fix-it projects. I don’t remember using nails, but the evidence would set off a metal detector if I walked through with these shoes. The way we used nails makes me laugh.
Your shoes don’t miss you. They don’t refuse to be used without you around. They’ll trek across the country whether your feet are in them or not. Your shoes aren’t partial. Your shoes would never leave me if I made a mistake.
And so I slip my too-small feet into your shoes day after day. They don’t fit match go together. They aren’t mine to wear lend leave carelessly around. Yet I do. And because I wear them everywhere, even where’s where they don’t belong, our soles share this space and I don’t need your permission. Your shoes will go where you won’t. And in them I will go.