Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Leather Friends

They were not expensive work boots. At the time, they might as well have cost $1000 given how much money was not in my pocket. But because of the kindness of the shoe store owner, I walked out with them for the money I did have in my pocket. I appreciated his gesture not so much for the shoes, but for the fact he allowed me to keep my dignity as I poured out my recent tale of woe. Somehow he knew I had to pay something and he managed to make it happen. Charity without leaving that bad taste in my mouth.

When I found these old leather friends stuffed in a box in the garage, memories came flooding back. Memories of failure and rebirth. Some memories I could have done without. Some memories lifted my heart on this rainy day in April, 2008. It was 13 years ago these boots brought me back from the depression of really failing for the first time.

Failure should come to everyone at some point. I think to really feel alive, falling on hard times can give us a perspective that makes Life that much more precious. To not have any prospects or sure thing in the future certainly tested my intestinal fortitude to the max. It was a month or so after my first bike shop failed that I realized this.

Forty something, my business gone and a family I was still responsible for. My initial reaction was to withdraw. Climb inside myself and build barriers between myself and everyone who mattered. I felt like I was slipping away.

I hated how I felt. I hated how I treated those I loved. I was not mean. I just wasn't there. The longer it dragged on, the angrier I became. At myself. At the World. Life seemed such a waste of time. You pour your soul into something only to watch all that effort and passion disappear into the back of a discounter truck in the parking lot as someone else takes down your sign.

My anger finally peaked and I went to the shoe store. I went there not just because I needed new work boots. But rather the trip represented my first salvo against the crater deep depression I had fallen into. That first step out of the depths and into that bright light Life always emits but is sometimes hard to find.

So I had the boots now. Finding a job was the easy part. As it turned out I was right. I went back to pounding nails and for the next 3 years my boots faithfully carried out their part of the bargain and I carried out mine. Together we managed to avert total personal failure along with the business failure. And because of this bond between me and my worn out boots, I cannot bring myself to throw them away.

They are back in a box I hope my wife will not find. Packed away as another memento of my past that holds more meaning than almost anything else I have secreted away for future reminiscing.

Post is now entered in Scribbit's May "Write Away Contest"


Anonymous said...

Nice post, Crummy. Nice post, indeed.


Noah said...

You are, without a doubt, the most fascinating person in my blogroll. Not the strangest -- that'd be Stevil. Not the wittiest -- that'd be BSNYC. Not even the most intelligent -- that'd be Bruce Schneier. But you are hands down in first place for the most fascinating.

Dawn on MDI said...

And who says men can't wrote about deep, touching stuff?

That was incredible. I am close to that place right now, and it was encouraging to read. Thank you.

Apertome said...

Great post. I'm glad you kept, and continue to keep, that pair of boots. You can tell by looking at them they've got stories to tell. I'm especially glad you posted the photo because ... damn, those are some well-worn boots, and they convey a lot.

MRMacrum said...

Thanks Folks. One finally came easy for me. Maybe it is because I have often thought of the shoe store owner and what he did for me.

Noah - I noticed you did not say I was the best looking person on your blogroll. You obviously do not look at my picture. That's some real beefcake there dude.

Anonymous said...

Well done.

toklas23 said...

This is my new favorite post. If you could see my vast collection of well-loved shoes, each pair with its own story, you would understand why I liked this so much.

Thanks for sharing...


El Cerdo Ignatius said...

Mr. Macrum, just remember this: it is NEVER okay for a man to throw out veteran shoes or boots, with or without sentimental value.

Great post. Thanks.

Sarah said...

beautifully said.

Scribbit said...

I love the picture that accompanies it--I can almost smell the musty leather smell.

MRMacrum said...

scribbit and Apertome - When I look at those boots, many of the re-habs, framing, or finish jobs jump out at me.

The worn out toes began when I installed a pine floor with hand pounded square nails and finished by handrubbing linseed oil into for 3 days straight. A painful week of labor for my knees and back. But whenever I run into the lady we did it for, she always comments on what a beautiful job we did and how much she loves her floors. Her satisfaction makes the pain of the install seem worth it now.

Mrs. F said...

Great post. I am not sure I have ever got teary-eyed over a pair of boots before now.

Alice Wills Gold said...

When one is down, there is no better thing than to "forget yourself and get to work". Work brings self respect and dignity.

It is no coincidence that the countries with the highest amount of welfare have the highest amount of suicide.

Love your attachment to the boots. Love the story.

Daisy said...

Love the boots -- and the story. There are shoes in my closet that I will never throw away because of the memories, but none as special as these.