When shoes break down

The RTW trip lasted about two years and three days. It started in Pokhara, Nepal, and ended while traversing a pile of ceramic teacup shards this morning in Mirzapur, India. My left sandal has called it quits.

In the moment before I accepted its passing, the sandal’s life flashed before my eyes. A life of travel — from the Himalayas to the lakes of Maine, to the midlife grind of Pennsylvania boarding house showers, then back to India for one last push.

Sure, these sandals went all over. But even if you never leave your city, a shoe still breaks when it’s too full of stories.

A busted shoe ranks right up there with piles of tickets and calloused heels as a testament to ground covered. A shoe breakdown of the sort I had this morning brings one of those moments where we face up to where we’ve been, how far we’ve come.

Looking back can leave you proud, nostalgic, awestruck — or it can be a motivator to change direction. At least, I imagine that would be the effect when a heel falls victim to three years of the same subway staircase.

Sometimes it’s hard to let go. Anybody else have shoes in semi-retirement? Old dogs that can’t be depended on as they once were, but that now make brief, low-stakes appearances? You know, those hiking boots with worn-smooth soles, now only good for dry sidewalks…

As great and comfy as old shoes are, I’m always happy for a new (or rejuvenated) pair. That feeling of potential — I want to walk around the world! — can’t beat it.

How are your shoes holding up?

Photo “*sigh*” by helgasms! via Flickr.

Posted by | Comments (5)  | April 28, 2010
Category: Notes from the collective travel mind, Vagabonding Life

5 Responses to “When shoes break down”

  1. Anita Says:

    How are they holding up? Well, actually, falling apart more like, but I just can’t let go. And they were the sturdy kind too! I wore them with crampons on glaciers, walked around in South America in them, traipsed Scotland, Corsica, Czech, Germany and quite a bit of European mountains all over. They endured summers and winters and, sadly, are now beyond any repair. The once profiled sole is silk smooth, the leather broke and marked even though I cared for it. I have to get a new pair but I keep putting it off ……..

  2. Rod Says:

    My favorite sandals of all time were bought in a market in Cairo for one dollar. They lasted me over a year, and it was a sad day when they were retired. Sandals, especially leather ones just seem to have a built in mileage counter before they explode 🙁 I liked them so much I made a bracelet from one of the straps, but eventually that fell apart too!

    In colder climates there is only one option for me – the Australian Blundstone. Comfortable, easy on and off, you can run and jump in them… the best boot of all time in my opinion. My current pair has been with me for three years, and they are still in great shape.

  3. Ahi Says:

    My sandals “died” a while back, but through loads of duct-tape I still wear them. It’s funny that the more countries your shoes have been to, the harder it is to part with them.

  4. Tim Says:

    I can’t seem to wear out hiking boots or shoes no matter how hard I try and how long I’ve been wearing them. It has to get to the point where the sole has totally worn through, then I’ll toss them, but that takes years of pounding pavement with them. Sandals seem to give up the ghost sooner. In three trips around the world, I only had one pair make it all the way and I bought those for cheap in Bangkok. Lucked out I guess. Dressier ones get trashed in a hurry. I went through three pairs in three countries once when I was working on the road. Just replaced them locally and kept moving.

  5. Brett Says:

    Thanks for the comments. Today I’m trashing a pair of Adidas Chiles that are old and battered yet perfectly fine. Need to make room in the bag, need an excuse to go shopping for neon knockoff Pumas in Delhi…