"At age 22, there were many things I didn’t know – I didn’t know, for example, that credit cards are the devil’s tool and that I would rue the day I signed up for one (or five). I also didn’t know that, unlike ducks, walking/ talking like leather did not actually make something leather. My combined ignorance in these matters led to me using my Victoria’s Secret plastic to purchase (overpriced) polyurethane riding boots by Madden Girl.
"The day The Boots arrived at my office, I experienced what Objectum Sexual individuals might refer to as “love at first sight.” The fact that they weren’t real leather didn’t matter – though that’s mostly because I didn’t know they weren’t leather until I began to break them in. And by break them in, I mean wear them every day, everywhere, for every occasion and in every type weather.
"The Boots became a part of my persona. I wore them year-round – with shorts, dresses, tights, and jeans. They were worn-in and in some places, worn-down, but they had that lived-in look that money can’t buy. And I loved them. They were a part of my life, and a part of me. Friends regarded them with the same esteem reserved for beloved pets. Boyfriends were aware and supportive of the bond we had. Strange men would make comments on them in passing. The only way they’d more closely resemble a pet is if they had fur trim (which, no thank you).
Naturally, a synthetic boot is not made to withstand years of wear, so I had to get bits and pieces repaired every now and again – a zipper here, a buckle there. The heel and toe became unglued so many times that my shoes weren’t just talking anymore; they were fluent in many languages. Mostly bastardized Italian.
"After three years of repairs, I decided to man up and buy a new pair. Victoria’s Secret had them in stock every winter, so I was sure I’d be able to seamlessly replace the old ones. I went online to do the deed but, much to my horror, The Boots were no longer available. Blinking, neon lights shouting “THAT IS SO THREE SEASONS AGO” flashed before my eyes. A moment of panic washed over me as I considered two, not-good-enough options – take The Boots in for their fourth facelift, or purchase new shoes.
"While I sat on the decision, I resorted to wearing some inconsequential ankle boots that I can’t bring myself to refer to as anything other than utilitarian footwear. It would be blasphemous to give them more credit than that. The Boots sat in my bedroom, staring at me, begging for one more chance. 'I promise not to talk so loudly,' the split-open heel would yammer. 'I’ll go all the way for you,' the zipper urged. I recalled a day when the zipper hadn’t gone all the way for me. In fact it’d only gone halfway up for me, and I had spent a half hour debating whether I should cut the boot off of my foot, or just amputate the entire leg. Because, could I really bring myself to slice up 50% of The Boots? I decided against tempting fate and left my fallen comrades in my closet.
"Until this past Saturday. My aunt came to town, and we were going to do a ton of walking. I was wearing a semi-new outfit, one that The Boots had never been able to complete, and nostalgia got the best of me. 'One last time,' I thought. 'Then I’m putting you down.'
"My aunt impressively held her tongue for about two hours, but finally addressed the decrepit, trilingual elephant in the room. 'I noticed your… boots. Can we get you new ones? Early Christmas present?' she asked. I obliged. Did I know, subconsciously, that this would happen? Maybe I’d worn them hoping she’d force me into action, my own version of Suicide by Cop.
"We went to Century 21 and combed through brown, authentic-leather boots. Everything I tried on felt constricting – I thought I was showing psychosomatic symptoms of separation anxiety but my aunt explained to me that leather (real leather) needs time to stretch. Oh.
"We settled on a new pair and I decided to wear them out of the store so as to not bring any more shame on my family. But what was I going to do with the old boots? I mentally flirted with the idea of burying them in my backyard, but then realized that that was insane. Mostly because my backyard is made entirely of concrete. 'Just throw them out here,' my aunt said matter-of-factly. Before I had a chance to think about it, the boots that had outlasted every job and relationship I’ve had in my adult life were gone. I’d put them to sleep.
"My new boots speak one language: 'I have my shit together.' They’re not quite grunge enough for me, and I’m not quite composed enough for them, but I’m hoping someday we’ll meet each other halfway."