I've needed new Birkenstocks for years. They are my go-to footwear all summer long, and the pair I'd been kicking around in had seen better days. I looked back to see how long I'd had them, and it's been fifteen years.
There's very little in my life that's been consistent for fifteen years. When I got those shoes I was in high school, not sure about college or the future or much of anything. I wore socks with my Birks, because I was that kind of cool kid, and felt that they could easily be dressed up or down.
I didn't much care about fashion or style, and still tend to focus on comfort over all else. It didn't bother me if my shoes were clunky, or my pants weren't cut to the look of the day as long as I felt comfortable. I like to think my fashion sense has evolved a bit in the intervening years, but there's just something about having a pair of Birkenstocks that makes me happy. They're not cheap, but after fifteen years of use, I feel like I got my money's worth.
Ultimately new shoes are not life altering. This isn't some great change, something that will make or break me by any means. But it's a little way of letting go. I had great adventures with those shoes, I lived in different states and countries, I dated and loved different people, I fell down (literally) and got back up. I lost them once and legitimately cried when they were returned to me. They look like hell now, and definitely can't be saved or rehabilitated. But they've lived a good life, and been stalwart even in their dilapidation.
I could list, in great detail, the memories associated with these kicks, then I catch myself. These are shoes after all. But I am trying to remember the past as it brings pleasure (Austen always knows what to say), so if that means strolling down memory lane (pun very much intended) one more time, I'll do so gladly.