shoes for africa

30 pairs of shoes.
5 pairs of slippers.
4 pairs of flip-flops.

i really, really like footwear. tendinitis has made me more conscious of what i wear on my feet, and i haven't been wearing a lot of the shoes i own. still, it's hard for me to give them up. so many...memories, i guess. then again, it's hard for me to throw anything away.

tonight, mom showed me a flier that said, "WE DON'T WANT YOUR MONEY, JUST YOUR UNWANTED SHOES". it was an african relief effort and said that "shoes of all sizes and conditions needed!!" (two exclamation marks).

suddenly, i got excited. it was the perfect reason for giving my shoes away. i positioned myself between my 3 shoe racks and got right to work. any time i hesitated in reaching for a pair, thinking, 'i might use these some time' or 'these hold memories' or whatever, the thought hit me: i wear these, what...once? twice a year? and there are people in africa who don't wear shoes. ever. simply because they don't have them. but i do!

with that, i'd grab the shoes and stick them in the bag. i felt pretty happy.

7 pairs later, i had a big white garbage bag filled, and then some. i know 7 isn't a lot, but it's a start.

these specific shoes weren't my cutest (minus one pair) ever, but they were some of the oldest, and brought back good memories. i'd like to introduce you to them, via my favorite memories of each.

a) black flats-- used from 8th grade all the way until college. most remembered for being a part 5 of my 7 years of choir.
b) thick-soled moccasin-looking things. used in various costumes, and learning how to match my shirts with my shoes (a practice that i'm still pretty meticulous about).
c) sturdy hiking-boots- girls camp. memory: we once found a saltwater taffy stuck in a tree along our hiking on some remote trail. i was wearing these. memory #2: jessica barry and i led the hardest hike our last year of camp. all i remember is that it was really really steep. those poor little girls we led.
d) my very first pair of sketchers. once used in my dance-video phase: my sister robin introduced me to her paula abdul dance exercise video and others...these shoes were troopers when i was attempting early 90's dance moves on carpet while busting up laughing every few minutes.
e) my sodas: i liked how they looked when i finally started to find jeans long enough to fit me. started matching brown belts with brown shoes. i guess i like matching.
f) comfy shoes: my roommate steph gave these to me when she was going to throw them out. good for lounging. reminds me of all the good times at cinnamon tree.

of these, my favorites are specimen a: the black flats. i guess my favorite part about them is the fact they were there with me through so many concerts and performances. i really miss singing.

here are other reasons why i liked them so much (besides the square toe):

i really loved making spiral shapes when i'd walk through a puddle or snow to a performance

i loved the fact that i had everyone fooled by re-applying sharpie marker on the tips to keep the warn-out ends looking black

i loved the pink stitching

and here was its vice: the end had come unsewn. an easy fix for someone in the shoe-making business, i'm sure.

so i didn't end up going to ghana like i'd planned this summer. but my shoes will go to africa. :)


K said...

An excellent post. And I'll tell you why I say so: so much of what we call life is made of the undiscovered present, moments that are so basic, we never notice them. Things that are so familiar as to have nearly been forgotten, even as you use them or wear them. We tend to write about the emotional things, the poetic things, the significant moments. But really, the texture that we come to know as the taste or feeling that means home and safety and normality is made up of things too unglamorous to list.

But in a moment like this one, you have preserved those things - so that you will remember. So that your kids will understand you. And then - and this is the miracle - sent those things on to make pieces of other lives.

Well done.

--jeff * said...

this is one my favorite posts on here.

i love not just that you were able to part with seven beloved pairs of shoes, but that you gave them each a brief but noble farewell.

keep the memories, give the shoes.
way to be awesome.

Laura said...

A fitting tribute to something that holds many memories.

Debbie said...

If you want to send more stuff to needing places - I'm doing a book donation for a school in Kenya. It's an elementary school and they need reading books as well as curriculum books. I have a neighbor who is going to Mexico in September and will be bringing clothes (specicifically church clothes) to the members so they can feel more comfortable about being in "Sunday best" (all sizes). Keep the good feelings going.