So I’ve held onto this particular pair of shoes for way too long. They were my uniform shoes in middle school then high school for the longest time. As long as I could get away with, pretty much. We had to wear black or brown shoes. Toes and heels covered.
They used to be clean, black, mary-jane types. Over time, one of the straps around the ankles broke so I just cut the ankle parts off of both shoes. Then they were kind of like a clog or mule. Somehow, I got away with this. Teachers weren’t noticing that I was basically walking around in platform slippers. So I started to decorate them.
I took some sparkly green nail polish and painted a ring around the platform. The thin black fabric from the sole started to bunch up so I pulled it off, exposing a sticky white surface underneath. The stickiness wore off before long and I decorated the new white soles with my permanent marker collection. Out came the sparkly pink nail polish and there were hearts painted on the heels. Finally, hot-glue-gun in hand, I bordered the edge of the clog with plastic gemstones.
And those adorable little gemstones are what brought the demise of my beloved school shoes. No, they weren’t noticed right away. After all, I wasn’t one of the kids that brought attention to themselves. I stayed under the radar, right along with my shoes. But noticed, they were, and I was forbid to wear them again.
It may sound a little melodramatic but let me just express, in the plainest way possible: Those shoes were really f#&%*$@ comfortable. It was a sad day but the shoes lived on, stashed in my closet, until today. They are a stinky pair of old shoes, no good anymore; Its time to throw them out. But I’m a very sentimental person, you see? I’m tired of them lying around, taking up space but I couldn’t bare to just toss them to the curb without a second glance or thought. So I’ve taken these photos for the off chance I’ll want to reminisce…
Goodbye old shoe friends! You treated me so well!
When I was a junior in high school, I thought I was a goner with my English teacher. It was the first month of school and I’d lucked out with a desk in the far left corner of the back row. The teacher, we’ll call him Mr. Bo, had already told my friend (who nabbed the desk right in front of me) and I to shut up a couple times. Now, I want you to know, I’m not a trouble-maker and never have been. This particular friend kept talking to me… mostly. The camel’s back was broken when Mr. Bo asked the class a question that was apparently supposed to be rhetorical. I whispered the answer to my friend, got it right and we high-fived. Mr. Bo stopped class immediately to move me from the far left corner of the back row to the far right corner of the front row.
“Right now”, he scolded, pointing to the empty desk next to the red-headed transfer student who looked like a viking. My friends and I had nicknamed the kid Petey because he looked like a Petey, simple as that. We even called him Petey to his face; girls are such bitches, am I right? I don’t even remember his real name, to me he’ll always be Petey no-lastname. (Who am I even trying to kid? His name was James Drake. A pretty bad-ass name, actually. But to me, he really will always be Petey no-lastname: like a superstar.)
I’d rarely been so humiliated in class and felt awful for getting on Mr. Bo’s bad side so early on in the year. He was notoriously grumpy. If only he knew how passionate I am about English, I thought as I gathered up my bag and books to relocate across the classroom while everybody watched in silence. I despised (still do) being the center of attention and the uncomfortable feeling nipping at my nerves remained for the rest of class, and then it continued to flare up randomly for the rest of the day. I’d catch myself physically wincing at the memory. Are people still looking at me? Have they forgotten about it yet or are they thinking about it? I wanted out of everybody’s heads. I wanted to be erased. Needless to say I didn’t make a peep for the rest of that class and the desk next to Petey in the far right corner of the front row was mine for the rest of the year.
I’m happy to report that Mr. Bo did come to understand how passionate I was about English (and specifically creative writing, which he was also the teacher for my junior and senior years). By the time I graduated from high school, I was not only on his good side but one of his favorite students (I’m confident enough about it to say that). Junior year English was American literature, so we read The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, or as my friends and I were fond of referring to it: The Adventures of Tuckleberry In. I went to a private school with uniforms and the worst thing about it was having to keep your shirt tucked in all the time (other than that I loved wearing uniforms). It was always the same teachers who’d get on your case about it and the same teachers who couldn’t care less. Mr. Bo was one of the teachers that cared a little too much, hence the joke being forced on the book he was teaching us.
I’ve never been one to believe something is true simply because a teacher told me so. Of course, I’m talking about things like American literature, not American history here. When I wrote an essay about Tuckleberry In, arguing the exact opposite of what Mr. Bo had been drilling into our heads, he sent a letter home to my parents commending the essay and that’s when I officially knew: I was in like flint.
Grumpy Mr. Bo ended up being my favorite teacher in high school. He eavesdropped on my friends and I discussing books we’d read in middle school. I said I liked Boo Radley from To Kill a Mockingbird, Mr. Bo said in a snarky tone: you would. We were pals by the end of it all. I felt depressed senior year when I couldn’t be in his creative writing class because it was the same period as my French class. So, I did what any rational person would do: I dropped out of French. My French teacher, we’ll call her Ms. Fangley, wasn’t very happy (and maybe a little shocked). When I dropped by her room to tell her I was switching classes, her response was, and I quote: I hate you.
I couldn’t exactly blame her for the reaction: it was only the first week of school and that summer I had spent six weeks with her and five other students in France, attempting to better our conversational skills. I ended up getting a lot out of the trip, unfortunately not in the way of speaking French, however. I came home with a slew of inside jokes making fun of Ms. Fangley e.g. Je ne comprends pas cette yellow-ass-poncho which should loosely translate to I do not understand that yellow ass poncho (she wore that shit all. the. time.). The class-switch was for the best, though: I’d always sucked at French but creative writing felt like a lifestyle.
To this day, I’ll catch myself daydreaming about being in Mr. Bo’s junior English class or one of his creative writing classes. It was a good time, a simpler time. I felt like a writing superstar in high school, constantly getting compliments from my teachers in all subjects, not just English or creative writing. My French teacher freshman year (NOT Ms. Fangley; she hadn’t been hired at the school yet) kneeled beside my desk as she handed me my final exam and whispered to me that she wanted a signed copy of my first novel. It disoriented me at first; I asked: you’re not talking about my French writing, are you? That actually made her laugh (told you I always sucked at French), and then she informed me that no, she was not referring to my French writing. She’d been given a copy of one of my short stories from my creative writing teacher that year.
I went to college with every intention of majoring in English. That was my thing after all. It was too much though. Too many books I didn’t care enough about, too many in-class discussions to give me panic attacks, too many people who were better and smarter than me. So, I didn’t major in English and I certainly didn’t feel like a writing superstar anymore. I did major in creative writing, though, and it still feels like the most comfy-cozy place to settle down for awhile in my brain. Let’s just say I’d drop French again in a heartbeat.
I’ve surely tooted my own horn enough at this point; hopefully my nostalgia trip didn’t bore you too much. Thanks for reading this self-indulgent blather my dear friends and family, you’re all the best.