An Ode to Sneakers
Maybe I’m greedy, or maybe I just like variety. Never easily or equally pleased by one thing or another.
There are four men I love: They are reliable, loyal, and always up for adventure.
Two of the four are more mellow, and pair well together
for coffee dates,
airports and shopping malls,
and roaming the city streets, cutting through alleyways and stepping on gum-stubbed steps, forever curious for the next leisurely excursion. We travel often together.
The other two have been on many journeys with me.
They are solid, grounded, and durable.
They come with me outdoors in the cold and in the heat — no matter their favorite season.
So selfless. Even when they’ve been battered by pavement or soaked from a summer storm, they join me, pacing trails and roads with fervent passion, excited and exhausted all at the same time to come home with me. My speed.
They keep pace with me, keeping their eyes closed and laces tied and snug again and again, expecting everything and then nothing — all at the same time.
They share my passion of running. They like the challenge and the anticipation of racing home; the finish line feeling.
They let me stay in control, striding to the beat of my own so(u)l.
In one word: persistent.
When they trip, they bounce back and keep moving forward.
Through the highs and the lows, no matter how defeated or overly confident I feel, they stick by my side and never take credit for the miles checked off or the feat behind us.
Nor do they know how good looking they are.
They are a little scruffy around the edges, shining in the sun during the day and lighting up in fluorescent tints at night.
In another word: humble.
I’ve never heard them say a word outside of squeak, squeak when I clean them or the squish, squish sound they make when I turn on my toes from the coffee maker to the front door in the morning. Yet they have seen many miles and endured many challenges.
Whether rolling out of bed and hitting a sweaty, long endurance run with me or joining in on a Sunday recovery run, they don’t mind getting a little dirty.
There we go, dipping our toes into muddied corners of the woods and sopping through orange beaches with our heels digging in and out of the grainy sands and rocks.
We get down and dirty. They please me this way.
They save me as much as I save them.
On the move, they keep me supported. They meet me where I need them to be, even when I don’t know if I can get there myself.
They are like a life boat on a rough sea, or the last stick of gum at take-off on an airplane.
The flapping laces like a sail, the solid soles like a sturdy aft, and the toe rubber like a protective bow.
They know when to give me alone time.
When I need space, they let me be with their tongues hanging out, laces undone. They let me sink into my mattress or go out with other pairs to taste the city and soak in the slow pace of a Sunday coffee jaunt.
When my eyes burn from computer fatigue and my nostrils fill with the smell of freshly cut grass, I know its time to pull them out again.
I have become a morning person, and they are too.
The pair waits patiently for me at the end of my bed. We both need our eight hours of sleep. We both come alive when we race in the daylight, anticipating the turns and lulling ride of the terrain.
Did I mention we dance together?
We’re a fitting match. We slip into a natural groove, the running groove day after day. It feels so easy, so free, really. We dance across sunsets and sunrises and kitchen floors to fields of flowers and rocky mountain paths.
We get into that running groove, the only way we were born and made to be when we will ourselves enough to see it. We are married when we lace up together.
Our runs are so in sync it cannot be called anything but a perfect pairing, a cozy fit.
Did I mention the feel of them?
One moment, they are like a cloud, my naked foot light in their feathery hands.
Then another moment later, they are more addicting than anything I own.
The first time I slipped inside, I knew I wanted more. Imagine the feel of cool leather, tanned and smooth. The recycled polyester, buff and firm against my ankles and feet. The color scheme and personalized details, oozing from the make to the mold…alluring and wildly addicting. Money earned, money spent.
Then there’s the fact that they’re protective of me.
They keep me safe from storms and deep-rooted rumbles in the outdoors.
They are like the banks of a river. They mold and flex with my every move, jerk, pull, and stride. Just strong enough to keep me wielding forward, so beautiful and wild at every turn.
It’s not hard to see why I fell in love with sneakers.
They have remained unchanged for decades, just more worn and dirty. Each shoe boasts their own story, their own journey. As we age together, we begin to see how time wastes away at the razor edge of things, working from the outside-in until wrinkly and torn, but still shiny with sweat and just enough tender sun light.
My sneakers are my big love.
The type of love that doesn’t need to be tied with a big diamond, but simply by the interlace of one sole to another soul.
My love isn’t the clingy type. It doesn’t matter if we win or lose. I don’t run away from it. I want every opportunity to run together, to make many miles a memory and stomp through time with grace and defiance.
Instead of breaking the ribbon with our hearts thumping out of our chests, lets keep striding forward, letting our souls kick up dirt, leaving everything else behind as we run the world with our heels and toes flicking the earth.