After my graduation at seventeen from a Mennonite boarding school, I was, to say the very least, utterly lost.
Every year that I grow older, I am more and more thankful that I was.
Being lost made me have to grapple with what I really felt about religion and sex and family and gender. Being lost eventually got me diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic, but I am even thankful for that.
But honestly, I am not here to talk about that today. I am here to talk about the boots, those beautiful black army boots that I bought about ten years ago on a cool spring day with the last of my money, even though I was living on noodles and two weeks away from having to visit the food bank.
During my many years of being lost, I took to wearing army boots. They were the cheapest footwear with the most durability for what money I had. They also made me feel tough, or at least they made me feel like I could be tough.
In actuality, I was a very clean looking white girl with shiny hair in a barret who had jumped from the suburbs to Mennonite boarding school to the hip area of town, and I was in need of an edge, fresh from the doctrine of pacifism or not. Big, heavy shitkickers seemed like a good place to start.
The pair in the photograph are not my first pair, but they are the pair that has followed me through approximately forty seasons of wind, rain, and snow. They have seen me through most of my major romantic relationships. Their thick leather, water resistance, and steel toes have kept my feet warm, dry, and uncrunched for over a decade.
Today, I wore them out when I met the Fiery One for lunch. The wind was throwing snow into my face, and the sidewalks were deceptively slick with sheets of refrozen ice from a recent melt, but my boots kept me upright and warm the whole time.
Not long after I bought them, my mother asked me if I wasn't maybe a little old to be dressing in that type of footwear. When I put them on this morning, I thought of that, because I was twenty-three when she suggested they were beneath me, and I am thirty-three now.
Fuck it, I thought as I pulled them on.
It's not really what my mother said ten years ago that got to me but my occasional worry that I am still a child. (When I worry about myself and my abilities, I bring in the scratchy bits of my offending history in order to shore up my resistance). Where am I in my life? What have I accomplished? Is this what it is to be grown up?
Where am I in my life? Well, I am right here, of course, and I quite like it. What have I accomplished? That all depends on who I let hold the measuring stick, but when it's me, it better be a long stick. Is this what it is to be grown up? It must be, because I'm getting crow's feet.
These are my boots. These are my boots. A blankie is to a child as these boots are to my feet. If they weren't so smelly, heavy, and inflexible, I'd probably take them to bed with me. The Adult Blanky of the Year Award goes to that pair of smelly blacky army boots with the frayed laces in the foyer.
Here's to the next ten years!