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An Obituary To My White Canvas Sneakers

There comes a time in everyone’s life when you are forced to throw out your favourite pair of shoes. No amount of duct tape, superglue or staples can keep them together anymore. And as much as these shoes have become a part of who you are, deep down you know. It’s time to move on. On that note, it is with a heavy heart that I announce that on February 17, 2022, I had no choice but to discard my white canvas sneakers.

There comes a time in everyone’s life when you are forced to throw out your favourite pair of shoes. No amount of duct tape, superglue or staples can keep them together anymore. And as much as these shoes have become a part of who you are, deep down you know. It’s time to move on.

On that note, it is with a heavy heart that I announce that on February 17, 2022, I had no choice but to discard my white canvas sneakers. After putting up a courageous battle against Melbourne’s ‘four-seasons-in-one-day’ climate, the shoes are finally at peace. Though their sole was worn out, and laces all knotted, they continued to provide for me until their very last outing.

I first got the sneakers in 2018. They were second hand. Like most of my clothes, they had been passed down through, what I call, the Italian Family Network of Sharing Resources (IFNSR). They were mine until two weeks ago when I walked down to the local shoe recycling drop-off point, feeling weirdly emotional as I threw away this withered and battered pair of canvas sneakers.

You see, back in 2018, everyone I knew had a pair of white canvas sneakers. So, I was over the moon when I landed myself a seemingly untouched pair that my cousin claimed were ‘too small for her’. (One of the many perks of having small feet.) Like a clumsy and awkward Cinderella, I slipped my feet into each shoe. Even though they had a new shoe stiffness to them, I was assured that overtime they would stretch. My toes flexed and adjusted to their new home as I shifted my weight from my heels to my toes and back again. The shoes quickly became a staple in my wardrobe.

Catching a movie and dinner with friends? T-shirt, jeans, and white sneakers. Walking down to the shops? Trackies and my white sneakers. Not sure what to wear to a party? Nice top, skirt and you guessed it, white sneakers.

But the more I wore these shoes, the more they became a part of who I am. Over the next four years they would accompany me through all of life’s adventures. From parties and gatherings to exams and interviews. If I was there, chances are I was wearing those shoes.

On my right shoe, my laces had this knot in them. It was the night of Hannah’s party. I was running super late, madly getting ready, as my friend texted me saying she was here to pick me up. Distracted by her text, my eyeline diverted to my phone as my hands went into autopilot tying up my shoelaces. Except I cannot multitask to save myself so I ended up tying this undoable knot. All my friends had their turn at trying to untie it. But it was no luck, none of us could get it. A modern-day Excalibur. So instead, I embraced it and grew to love this little imperfection.

There were these two black scuff marks just above where my toe sat. They were quite subtle but I noticed them every time I glanced down at them. Often when I was impatiently waiting in a reception room or nervously watching the footy, I’d occupy myself by staring down at my shoes. There was something comforting in looking down at something so familiar when I was in a strange, unknown situation. These two little mundane scuff marks instantly took me back to a safe state of refuge.

If you ever held the shoes upside down, chances are a pinch of sand would trickle out. I wore them once to the beach. Literally one time.
Once.

And still, for years to come, there was sand pouring out of every crevasse.

Everyone else at the beach was in thongs (if they were even wearing shoes). But not me. I walked along the shoreline. A little too close to the edge of the water for someone in closed shoes. But there was something invigorating about having to be on constant alert for incoming waves. This rush of adrenaline, all stemming from the white canvas shoes.

They didn’t stay that snowy white colour for very long though. Inevitably, one time on a walk with a friend, I was so engrossed in our conversation I didn’t notice a rather large collection of dog droppings. I don’t know what was worse. The squelching sound it made as I stepped in it or the lingering smell that followed me everywhere I walked.

I looked up a couple of online blogs and stumbled across an article that promised a “cheap, easy and carefree” method to clean my shoes. And while soaking them in vinegar and aggressively scrubbing them with a toothbrush got rid of that surface dirt, one thing was clear. That pristine white colour was beginning to fade. Plus, they now reeked of vinegar.

Gradually, the heels started to erode as well. But I guess that was bound to happen, given the amount of power walking I had  to do to avoid those people handing out flyers on campus. As the rubber started to wear down and the pressure built up in my heels. I knew their time was coming to an end.

And then there was the last time I wore them.

The rain was bucketing down. The wind was picking up. And then there was the hail, just to spice it up a bit. I was running down the street to my friend’s house holding my jacket over my head. But it was no use. My shoes, unable o protect me anymore, began to let a muddy substance seep through, damping my socks.

Great. Fabulous. Fantastic.

I walk in through the corridor to my friend’s house, left with no choice but to leave what was left of my shoes at the door. It was like leaving a part of me behind. I’m holding back tears, knowing that this will be the last time I ever wear them. The last time I’ll ever get to hear that high pitch squeak when I change direction mid step.

In one sense, they were just shoes. Mass-produced in some factory with thousands upon thousands of identical shoes. But they felt so much more than that. Those tiny little details that differentiated them from the rest. It would take me all of one nanosecond to pick them out from a row of similar looking shoes.

To my white canvas sneakers,

Boy, we had some adventures, some laughs, and some trips.
I’ll never get the chance again to glance down at you when I’m nervous.
No more stepping in dog’s faecal matter or late-night soaking in vinegar.
So long to the days of running around on campus and walking along the beach. One day, I might buy a new pair.
But I’ll never forget you.

 
Farrago's magazine cover - Edition Five 2022

EDITION SIX 'RETROFUTURISM' AVAILABLE NOW!

Our last print edition of 2022 is here! This wild, visionary edition is filled with burning nostalgia, glittering hope, and tantalising visions of the future, past, and present.

Read online