After watching Reese Witherspoon's achingly honest performance as Cheryl Strayed in the film Wild, I started reading the book. Because, you know, I didn't read it like three years ago when my creative writing teacher told me to. Yeah, yeah; I'm always late to the party, and I'm always the one that brings unpopular snacks.
Anyway, in the first few pages, Strayed talks about losing her shoe on a cliff along the Pacific Crest Trail. In the movie, we see Witherspoon carefully pulling away the remaining bits of toenail that cling to her mutilated feet. Then she pitches the other shoe down the cliff. The point being: Cheryl Strayed did not know how to buy proper hiking shoes (really, just ones that fit her properly). And this brought up a very sincere, if not totally trivial, fact of life for me: I suck at shoes.
- I suck at buying shoes. I will never pay full price for shoes. This means I have really mediocre shoes that are real cute from places like Target and H&M. This also means that I own really out of season designer shoes that I got for probably 80% off at one of those hideous designer warehouse places. Yeah. I shop at those.
- I suck at fitting into shoes. Just like Strayed, I often find myself with mangled feet at the end of a long hike. This is a lie. I usually wear really, really inappropriate shoes on hikes (just ask any Californian I know. For real). We're talking sandals, we're talking $20 boots that instantly soak up the water that drifted majestically off those damn fine (and enormous) Redwood trees.
- I suck at wearing weather-appropriate shoes. I'm consistently confused by the weather in California. It's either blazing-hot and my toes get sunburned, or it's slightly less hot and I sweat in my boots. Either way, I can never seem to find a homeostatic happy place for my feet.
- I suck at caring what people think about my shoes. Let's be real. I get dressed in the dark basically every day. If it's clean, I'll probably wear it. I catch myself around noon each day glancing down at my feet just to make sure my shoes match. This is a very real comedy for me. And the fact that it takes me until noon to even give a damn is also a little sad. What's not sad, however, is that the underlying sentiment remains: I do not care. If I accidentally mix up a black oxford with a brown oxford, I'm going to pretend I did it on purpose and feel zero shame, naysayers.
I was recently at a gathering with a bunch of pals, and one of those pals decided to shoe-shame my companion on the way out the door. We both looked at each other quizzically: are we supposed to be embarrassed by this shoe faux-pas? Since when are standard Nike shoes "dad shoes"? Let's face it, we're all pushing 30-35. A lot of us are dads and moms. I wear mom jeans, and I don't even have a kid. That shit is just comfortable.
Maybe I'm just trying to make sense of my complete lack of shoe-responsibility, because I'm cheap and I have wide feet and I'm pretty sure I wear the same size as Dennis Rodman. Here's where I say that Cheryl Strayed made me feel better about not buying proper shoes (I am not alone!), but also worse because I should buy proper shoes. Not that I'll be hiking the PCT any time soon—though if I did I'd probably wear a pair of neon pink Nikes.
Here's a picture of the last time I went hiking in Auburn. Check out those fly $25 totally-made-for-nature H&M boots.