Little by little, one travels far. – J.R.R Tolkien
A tribute to my much loved travel kicks. Adventure will not be the same without you.
August 22, 2015 – March 22, 2016.
Growing up, life was hard. I was neglected by retail assistants, thrown into different boxes and shipped across the USA until I was dropped on a clearance shelf in Upstate NY; desperate for someone to give me a life. A few customers passed by and tried me on but rejected me because of my double-purple tongue.
On August 22nd of 2015, my life changed. I was saved from the dreaded store ‘backroom’ when I met my -now-best-friend, Sophia. She didn’t care about my double-purple tongue but instead bought me because I was unique. She’d always say ‘ordinary was boring‘ anyways.
I quickly learned the ups and downs of friendship when Soph took me globetrotting around the world – you really don’t know how crazy someone is until you travel with them. The first few weeks were tough for us. I was still a little set in my ways and it took Sophia a good week to break me in. I did eventually embrace the ‘free spirit’ lifestyle though. Soph was proud to show me off and I promised to protect her through thick and thin. My laces were bright white, my traction was A+ and I matched with all of Soph’s favorite travel clothes. She laced me up and explained that the ‘shortest way to yourself, was around the world’ – so off we went.
Over the next four months we walked 500+ miles through 10+ countries and created enough memories to last a lifetime. It’s crazy how big the world becomes when you step outside the box (literally). Soph and I biked through Amsterdam, walked to the John Lennon Wall in Prague, jumped around pubs in Dublin, hiked through the Pyrenees Mountains in France, danced the polka at a Polish wedding, explored German castles, hung out at the Cannes Film Festival venue on the French Riviera and toured the Barcelona Football Stadium in Spain. One day we walked for over 6 hours and Soph’s ankle turned purple – I tried to tell her to stop accidentally kicking herself, not to mention that she was scuffing up my good looks.
Soph and I shared a lot of cool moments together. I was there when she cried – overwhelmed after reading the horror stories from the Berlin wall. When she screamed with excitement while cruising on her first motorcycle ride. When she traced back her Italian heritage and reconnected with lost family roots in Alberobello. When she laughed trying to pronounce foreign phrases. When she cheered to friends at Oktoberfest and spilled her pint all over me (I forgave her later).
Ahhh. Looking back I never thought these days would end.
Some of my all time favorite memories with Soph were spent on the couch, chatting with Soph’s friends. A lot of them wore converse too (I even fell in love with another bright blue pair-ohh baby). Soph didn’t think I noticed but I saw the twinkle in her eye when positive people were around her. I watched her friends instill a ‘love for life’ that inspires her to this day. She’s blessed to know some really awesome people.
Over time I watched Soph grow. She learned how to accept things that she
couldn’t change, and how to cherish life’s simpler moments. One day, it was down-pouring when she took me outside to dance in the streets. She told me that a ‘positive mind gives you a positive life’. I’m not sure how thinking positively could turn me into a pair of rain boots, but I still did my best to keep her socks dry.
To society, Soph was, kinda- like-me. She seemed to have a hard rubber sole that could take on the weight of the world, get knocked about and carry on. It wasn’t always that easy for her though. I still remember Sophia really struggling to smile – overwhelmed by the stress of trying to find her purpose in life. For a long time she felt the pressure of pleasing everyone around her and doing what ‘everybody else was doing’– even though she knew that she wouldn’t be happy doing it. She feared the idea of failing but her biggest fear was building someone else’s dream. This was soon to change though. She’d say;
‘Change your attitude, change your life.’
One night Soph and I got delayed on a German train for 4 hours without wi-fi. At first I could tell Soph was bummed but she believes that everything happens for a reason. It was then that Soph met a stranger who changed her life. Pipp, a woman in her 30’s, who had traveled the world and back, sat next to Soph and I. This woman was full of life, culture, wisdom, love and had a contagious happy spirit. She spoke about building a life of meaning and filling it with positive people. She said that there is more to life than just existing and advised against racing toward an end goal.
During the next few hours Pipp inspired and challenged Soph. She said;
Live outside of your comfort zone and constantly challenge yourself. When you stop learning, you start dying.
Don’t be afraid of failure – it’s the only opportunity to begin again.
Seek inspiration by music, art, sunshine or whatever life throws at you. Take lemons and make more than just lemonade.
Create opportunity. Don’t just expect things to happen by chance. The genie in the bottle doesn’t actually exist.
The universe owes you nothing; so make something from the gifts you’ve been given.
& most importantly…
Do what you love and free your soul.
Europe changed Sophia’s entire world and while her life evolved, mine changed too.
My white laces turned gray and I started to rip a little at the seams. I still remember the day Soph told me I smelled. I tried to tell her that it wasn’t my fault but I didn’t want to offend her. I knew by this point I was more to her than just a ‘beat up’ pair of shoes.
Soph’s experiences molded our relationship and she certainly kicked up the pace to make the most of every opportunity. I still remember running full speed through the necropolis, rushing through airports to make the closing gates just in time – and I’ll never forget putting the pedal to the medal on the autobahn.
Europe left me with some serious battle scars– my bottoms have worn away, my insides have fallen out and the pattern on my rubber soles is almost gone. My all-star logo practically ceases to exist – but Soph still tells me that I’m the MVP. She’s even decided to take me with her on her latest trip through New Zealand. She says that ‘in the end, we only regret the chances we didn’t take’.
Lately we have been killing it in New Zealand- and the people we’ve met here have been amazing. Soph and I have layed under thousands of stars at the dark sky reserve, learned the Haka, flown in helicopters over Fox & Franz glaciers, climbed rocks at the most beautiful lakes, hitchhiked to so many places that I can’t even remember and danced in the streets of Queenstown. We’ve went jet boating, hammock camping, hiking to the Hukka Falls and went running along the beaches (I hate it when she gets sand all over me though). We’ve even been kicking her cousin Luke every time he needs it.
My favorite experience to date was when Soph and I went bungy jumping off a 440ft bridge. This is when I really found out she was crazy. I was scared to death when she walked me out onto that ledge. Soph loved it. She almost made me jump with her again.
Soph and I have become inseparable – she even kept me around after she got attacked by bed bugs and almost burned everything that she owned. We’ve had so much fun together in the past but unfortunately, all good things must come to an end. The past few weeks have been hard for us. Soph still takes me out everyday but I just cant support her like I used to. Yesterday she asked me to let her know when I’m ready ‘to go’.
I’m only 7 months old – but I’ve lived one crazy life. They say that;
“In the end it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.”
Since my days on the shelf, I’ve grown wise, and now realize that life isn’t about the shoes you wear – but what you do in them. Soph and I never had any idea of where we were going, but the only way to get someplace was to go somewhere. I guess at the time we didn’t realize how fast the time was flying; we were too busy living the dream and exploring the world.
Thanks for the memories Soph. I hope your next pair of kicks treats you well, and dares to adventure wherever the road may take you.
Your favorite travel companion, the black Chuck Tays
Someday, everyone will have to leave something behind. Make sure that something tells a story worth telling.
RIP. March 22, 2016