How long had it been since I wore these Fluevog shoes? At least four years – maybe a bit longer, actually. This morning I found them sneaking a look at me from behind the mess in our tiny bedroom closet floor. I dug past tennis and dress shoes long forgotten and pulled them out.

I slipped my feet into them. They felt somehow comforting. These old shoes of mine for which I had paid what I had felt was far too much. I bought them on Newbury Street in Boston several months before I decided to forever leave that city and to head to Northern California. I can remember breaking them in that winter. My feet were far too cold in the snow to notice the pain from the unworked leather bindings of Mr. Fluevog’s design.

One early evening I trounced through the South End with this man I quite liked. He admired my determination to get them to have that “worked in” feel. We stopped at a coffee shop and he explained how he didn’t feel he could walk away from a profession that not only fueled his wallet but his self-confidence. A fake bit of confidence that was flaking away quickly as he had just celebrated his 45th birthday. …Tho, to any of his clients, he had only just turned 35. Clients, upon his initial meeting were far too desperate and lonely to protest that he didn’t exactly match the picture that sold his services. He had kept up the muscles, but smile lines were etched firmly into his face and the challenges of time had somehow covered his once firm six-pack with a small belly. But, he was still handsome and knew how to work it.

I can remember him holding his giant coffee cup with two hands. Looking at me in a way that reminded me of a frightened child, “Matt, I just can’t quit what I do. I need it and them as much as they need me.”

I can remember sitting quietly weighing the thoughts that were racing through my already muddled head. I can remember shifting as the combined warmth of my hot-coca surroundings made me aware of the pain inflicted by my new shoes.

“Nothing has to change between us. I know monogamy matters to you, but I am monogamous. This part of my life is my job. They are not real encounters. Besides, what else can I do at this age? I’ve been doing this since I got my real estate license when I got out of high school. This is all I know to do.”

It is interesting to me that I can remember his hands better than his face.

We sat in silence for a long while. Natalie Merchant’s voice was carrying through the coffee shop’s speakers and it was close to closing time.

We began to put on our coats, scarfs and gloves. I remember opting to forgo my ear muffs. It was impossible to not notice that his eyes were filled with tears. Like some lost soul wanting me to tell him that it was all cool and OK with me.

We stepped outside on to Columbus Avenue. There was a light fall of snow and I took the bitter cold air into my lungs. I don’t recall what I actually said to him, but I do know that I essentially told him goodbye and wished him the best of luck. He started to cry. I gave him a hug and he grabbed me and gave me a kiss full of misplaced emotion. As I forced my way out of his kiss and embrace I started to slip on the cobbletone’d sidewalk. He caught me at my lower back.

The last thing I ever said to this sad man was that I really loved my shoes. A few more days and a box of bandaids – and they’d be all set. I think I was wanting him to laugh as I made my exit back to my high rise apartment. But, he didn’t laugh. He gave me a half smile and a wink. I watched him walk down the avenue with his head aimed firmly at the ground in front of him.

Today, as I walked in my old shoes this memory flooded over me. I guess he must be 50 now. I hope he is OK, but I’m so glad I turned away and left New England behind me. I wore these shoes on to the plane that brought me to San Francisco. Funny. When I realized the plane was getting close to California, I removed these shoes and put on a pair of cool comfort shoes. I wore them to a Bauhaus concert a few weeks later when my best pal, Alan, bought us tickets. I think that was the last time I wore these shoes.

As 4pm approaches, they are still comfortable but oddly unsteady. I think I shall take them off. Maybe I will wear them again some day or maybe not. But, I do think I will keep them. They are my shoes. It is my walk through life. Walking in a constant jag’ed line is not always easy but it seems to be my fate’s want.

I continue to plow forward. I can’t give up. Marching forward — old or new shoes. Cheap or expensive. Actually, maybe barefoot is the best way to go. …As long as one is not walking in the Tenderloin or Crack Alley.

April 14, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , . Uncategorized. 4 comments.