My Sole: A Love Letter to My Favorite Pair of Shoes

ME, MYSELF, AND MY SHOES

By Marisa Dellatto

I am in awe and admiration, deeply humbled and almost perplexed—I’m not one for love letters. Yet here I sit typing, because two dear friends of mine require such recognition. Together, we’ve built the longest-lasting relationship I’ve ever experienced. Nothing and no one knows me better than these two. Surviving the grueling, mystifying last four years step-by-step alongside me has been quite a feat.

I owe it all to you: my worn-out leather boots.

These ladies walk a gray line of classification. I struggle to label their kind. At just ankle length, I suppose they would be more accurately classified as “booties.” But these are not some boppy party shoe made to stun with skirts. No, these are a librarian’s bootie, if you will: an oxford for the relaxed type-As; a loafer for casual Fridays.

The brown leather rounds at the toes and takes a sun salutation, bridging upward and back as it reaches its arms up to the light, warming as it forms two structured corners.

The front is decorated with an antique fringe of sorts, double-layered and more than willing to stand its place as the focal point of the shoe. These simple strands of sliced leather swing in the wind ever so slightly. They’re delicate, unprotected from the elements I so-often throw them into. Yet somehow they’ve almost denied every urge to recoil and fray.

Past the acorned-tinted grass comes another unexpected accent: a “hint of saloon,” to borrow from Stanley Tucci in The Devil Wears Prada. Wing-tipped detail, sans tip, trims the sides of my well-weathered friends. Their scalloped and polka-dotted emblem gives a pop! to the otherwise simple silhouette. The deep chocolate material contrasts the shoe’s otherwise chestnut bodice. Add to all this a laced-up tongue (almost saying, “hey! Sneakers! I see you!”) and a low wooden heel. There, it has been created: the perfect pair of shoes.

  Illustration by Julianna Sy

Illustration by Julianna Sy

I owe it all to you: my worn-out leather boots.

My BFFs were a gift for my eighteenth birthday. They were too expensive to ask for, but I promised my parents I would wear them as much as I could. The second I unwrapped them, I threw them on my feet, like an overexcited child on Christmas morning. And from the first brisk wind of fall, to the last of spring’s rain, I have donned these shoes every day.

I have never not-once not-ever blistered while in these soles. They are my ruby red slippers, magically matching with everything I own. They dress up leggings and oversized sweaters. They dress down dresses. Paired with chunky socks or skinny jeans or tights or an eccentric combination of the three, it doesn't matter.

With an estimated 548 wears in them and counting, my girls are injured. The heels are worn, tilted in where my pigeon-toed stance has unevenly scuffed wood away. The leather has tired and swirled from drops of mud, rain, and spilled tea. The sides are peeling and cracked. I don’t look at these as wrinkles, but as smile lines. These were my first big-girl shoes. Together, we firmly strutted into adulthood. Every smudge and fracture is a memory, a literal representation of my own maturity, and the duo only gets better with age. How’s that for some symbolism?

Today, the temperature dropped. Mid-September felt like November. And so I did what now is a long-lasting tradition: I pulled on my favorite pair of shoes. The shoelaces are fraying—I have to stop off and get yet another new pair. Sure, it’s a slight inconvenience, but the payoff could not be better. I’ll never stop repairing these shoes, no matter how much they blotch and tear. Together, we will march on, step by step.