old reliables

For the first time in years I pulled my Chacos out of storage. In college they were my everyday shoes. Everyone in my college town owned a pair and wore them as if at any moment they would spontaneously need to wade through a river. During the summers my friends and I would compare the different tan lines on our feet made from the brightly colored straps that held the rubber sole in place. The more time you spent in the sun, the more your foot resembled a tan and white stripped zebra. And we wore our stripes proudly.

Even though these shoes were created for utility, most girls in my town sported them as a fashion statement. We spent hours in front of the wall of sandals at our local sporting goods store closely eyeing each strap selection. Should we go for a muted pattern so we could wear them with anything, or would this be the pair that we finally sprung for the bright blue and green argyle?

Looking at them now, I see nothing fashionable. The chunky, black, rubbery sole makes my tiny foot look even tinier- like a child wearing her mother’s sandals. They may no longer fit my personal style, but I still look to them for what they were originally made for- the great outdoors.

One of my favorite parts of visiting my grandparent’s lake house is walking down the hill to the waterfront. I’ll read, I might write, but mostly I love to do nothing more than look out on the water and listen to the waves created by passing boats rush up to the rocky shore. It’s for this small bit of solitary heaven that my Chacos rekindled their purpose.

With the recent high waters at the lake, the trail my granddad forged to the water is completely covered in driftwood and is a bit treacherous. I knew I would need the sturdiness of a sneaker to maneuver the short hike as well as keeping a steady footing on the slippery boulders once at the water. Chacos to the rescue.

As I slipped them on for my first trip down to the lake I couldn’t help but remember all the places these shoes had taken me. I wore them as I was taken down to the tarmac at the airport in Bolivia so a giant guard and his dog could rifle through my luggage. I was sure at that moment that something I bought at the market had been laced with a drug and I was being sent to Bolivian prison. I wore them when a kayaking trip took a bad turn and I was afraid I would never find the pull-tab underwater for the wet escape. They came with me the month I worked at a Young Life camp in beautiful British Columbia. I put them on every morning at 6:00 am to go water the serenely quiet campgrounds. They carried me around campus, up mountains and through all daily tasks in between.

They kept my footing solid no matter what in my past and I turned to them once more in my present. It was a sweet surprise to feel their comfort again and I’m now restless for another reason to bring them out and about.


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