When one is preparing to move over a thousand miles away for several years, returning only a few days or a week here and there, there are many goodbyes to be said. Today saw the first of my significant partings. Friends, family, house, pets, job, favorite spots, well-traveled routes to familiar places, those will come over the course of the next twelve days. Today is the sending-off of my first real pair of running shoes. In the past year, these babies have accompanied me from my first feeble and embarrassing attempts at jogging (one quarter-mile at a time) to the eight-minute mile I ran this morning (we won't tell anyone that the next two were about twelve minutes each - hey, it was wicked humid!). At the beginning of last summer, I was newly skinny; now I'm newly healthy. I feel like these shoes helped me get there. Reminiscing about the beginning of our beautiful friendship, I can still see the pristine, almost too-white white mesh, the shiny applique, and the crisp, un-crinkled laces. Now I look down at my feet, at the dull gray and dirty fabric, the creases, the worn spots and feel an aching and sweet pinch of sentimentality, so uncharacteristic for me (but becoming more common as more partings and last-time-evers approach).
In the next room sits a box with new friends in it. Clean and new, bright and unfamiliar. When I retire them a year or so from now, I hope to be able to reflect on them a similar way, how they brought me from healthy to strong.
As Gabriel Garcia Marquez once wrote, I couldn't bring myself to admit that life might end up resembling bad literature so much. As I was rounding the first bend in my usual jogging route, I picked up on the all-too-obvious metaphor of this farewell to my old shoes - comfortable, familiar, custom-formed to me by long wear, and well-loved. Yet when I put a new pair on my feet the other day, I realized they no longer provided the support I needed, that my running abilities had surpassed what they could provide. I felt a pang when I put them back on at the store, having tried on the newer model; I knew that they were no longer what I needed or where my feet belonged. Like my home, my school, and all my routines, these shoes have served me well, and I love them dearly, but I have new goals, new needs, and a new life waiting for me. I plan on running towards it at full speed (in a gorgeous new pair of shoes!).