You will be missed.
The Sneaker Eulogy
My black clamshell Adidas, made in Indonesia and purchased during one of the greatest summers of my life, passed into the great unknown on October 16th. They had a good life and I will be forever grateful for their friendship and service.
They began their life tied to my feet in Western Europe during a once in a lifetime adventure I will never forget. Later, they became my “go to” sneakers while living in Northern California.
As they aged, they persevered. Even after the bottoms had worn off and I could no longer wade through a puddle without getting my socks wet, they soldiered on and graduated into my studio work shoes.
I loved them. And I truly believe they loved me. Comfortable and sturdy. I will miss them dearly. I cannot imagine another pair of sneakers ever taking their place.
We first met not longer after I put all my belongings in storage and moved to Madrid for the summer in 2009. My leather Jack Purcells could not make the trip and expired within days upon my arrival.
Then, in trying to impress a Spanish girl I met, I made an ill advised purchase of some patent leather sneakers at a funky mall. The hipster shoes were a debacle. In a matter of days, I had blisters all over my feet and was limping around town.
All I wanted to do was walk. Experience. Explore. I couldn’t stop.
In a desperate plea, I scoured touristy Calle Mayor for a new pair. I was no longer concerned about style or looking cool. I just needed SOMETHING I could walk in. I found a random shoe store, basically a Spanish version of Foot Locker but smaller, and took a look around. Options were limited.
Nothing jumped off the shelf, but one pair did quietly catch my eye. Adidas. Clamshell toe. I’m not normally an Adidas guy and the classic clams didn’t sit right with me. I’m not a rapper and, right or wrong, that’s how I always associated them.
But these were a little different. White toe. Black bodies. And instead of three big white stripes, they had clear plastic stripes. They were understated in a way, and I liked that. I didn’t need to make a statement. I just wanted to walk without falling over. I managed to mumble “diez?” And with some wild hand motions was able to communicate to the clerk that I wanted to try on a pair. Size 10.
I’m used to wearing Converse with less support. These hugged my foot. They had big arches. They weren’t uncomfortable, but different. I kept staring at the clamshell toe. Could I pull this off? My feet were pretty raw, but I felt like I could probably walk in them. I figured I’d give it a shot. I put the patent leather clunkers in the box and wore these right out of the store. My feet immediately relaxed and the healing process began. In a matter of days, I didn’t have to think about my blisters anymore and was able to focus on my surroundings.
I rented a flat in Madrid. I did mile upon mile of walking for months, experiencing ancient beautiful sites for the first time. I made awful paintings in my room (I was new to painting.)
I met new friends. I had a magical experience at Leonardo da Vinci’s house in Amboise, France. There were train rides. Airports. A life changing epiphany in Nice. All with these shoes on my feet.
I got dehydrated during the Spanish summer and began having heart palpitations. I was scared and alone in the south of France. My shoes were there.
I visited Renoir’s house. Then there was the night I had a few drinks and got lost in the streets of Barcelona…with these shoes on my feet.
After I got back to the US, I took long walks in the woods in Nevada City, CA. I went on a first date with the woman who is now my wife. I made most of the art for my first solo show in 2010, and pretty much all my art since. It’s been six years of massive changes in my life…and my clamshell Adidas were with me the whole way.
I tried to give them a good life. I don’t miss most shoes when their days are done. I don’t get weepy every time I buy a new shirt and donate an older one.
But in rare cases, there are memories. Adventures. Epiphanies. And these shoes represent my connection to those moments. Not so easy to let go.
I feel a little empty. And sad. Perhaps I’m caught up in an overly romantic tale I’m telling myself. But I don’t care.
I’m losing romance in my life. I feel the pull to become less excitable. Less interested. To be more numb. Because it really is all too much.
I don’t want to lose the magic thought just because I have more shit to do and the news sucks. Or because things haven’t turned out how I imagined they would when I was 25.
“Reality” is overrated. As much as realism is important in life, I’m learning more and more as I get older that “real” is just truth. And truth can fly in the face of reason. It doesn’t have to be logical. Or rational. It doesn’t have to make sense. It doesn’t have to be practical. Real truth is emotional. It hits at the core. It’s the absolute magic of life. That which makes everything else worth doing and living for.
For me, these shoes are a physical connection to past moments when the veil was lifted and I felt alive. Really alive.
I read recently that happiness is an act of defiance in this world.
Then I saw this:
“I believe Icarus was not failing as he fell, but just coming to the end of his triumph.” – Jack Gilbert
I want more triumphs in my life.
I will have more triumphs in my life.
And some have come to an end.