Goodbye old soles, hello new souls

Katie Lew, Photo Editor

I’m standing in front of a goodwill donation bin, looking down at my shoes–the old, creased Nike Air Force 1s that I’ve had all throughout high school.

I look at the creases, the streaks that line the leather. I see the yellow hue of the rubber midsole, threads ripped out of the seams, the lining on the inside obliterated.

As I scan the details of the decayed pair, I spot a bit of white, reminding me of when they were brand new.

It’s the summer before freshman year. With a great deal of persuasion, I just barely convinced my parents to buy them for me, arguing that they would be a good investment for the future.

Though I had no knowledge of sneaker culture, there was an ineffable connection between me and my shoes. Perhaps it was the mutual readiness to take on a new world, or maybe it was the fact that we were both blank canvases waiting to be colored.

Whatever it was, we were glued to the soles from then on.

Freshman year. Every step I took squeaked as the leather still held its shine, imitating the squeals of anticipation I held inside, as I got onto the school campus.

My shoes were still as pure white as I was, innocent and oblivious to high-school culture. But as shivers ran down my body into my feet, the aging process for us both commenced.

I learned about the difficulties of making friends, finding where I belonged, getting accustomed to the accelerated pace of life. With this new speed came adrenaline, excitement. As I made friends with older kids, I began dashing to the parking lot every day after school to hang out, running across grass, dirt and asphalt.

My shoes developed a slightly yellowed, worn appearance. Similar to me, who, through many days in the sun due to marching band, had tanned quite a bit.

Sophomore year. My shoes, now with an off-white glow, look better than they appeared when they were brand new.

My shoes were at their peak, like me–at least mentally–who felt on top of the world with all the knowledge there was to know. I strutted around campus with the arrogance and self-assurance that only comes with having been through something once before, marching through the halls.

I was a big kid now. I took AP classes and I had established social circles. I knew my way around the band room and soccer field, where I spent my days practicing my drill.

But all of that came crashing down on March 13, 2020 when COVID-19 hit. The world seemed to stop. Time disappeared as I existed in a mindless state, simply waiting for the next day to approach.

Though I aged physically, my mental state remained stuck at 15.

Like me, my shoes couldn’t stop the passage of time, unable to escape deterioration. Thanks to the many, many, many walks I took through the hills of my neighborhood, walking 10 miles at one point, my shoes began to look past their prime.

The grooves turned into channels, the threads came loose, and the cream color turned into a deeper lemon. They looked older than they actually were.

Senior year. No matter how much wear and tear me and my shoes have been through, I was optimistic about what was to come.

And now, after battling loneliness, reuniting with friends, building new relationships, and finding out who and what I care about, I’ve been hit with the realization that this is it.

It’s the end of an era.

I could say something about how I don’t feel ready for my future. How I’m nervous and scared to leave my shoes behind. But I’m excited more than anything.

So, I am saying sayonara to my shoes, who wear my high school journey proudly. I will leave them as a memento of the girl who will soon be a memory. I’ll see them off for the last time and adorn a bright, new pair of shoes.