Mama says they was magic shoes. They could take me anywhere.
“My momma always said you can tell a lot about a person by their shoes, where they go, where they’ve been. I’ve worn lots of shoes, I bet if I think about it real hard I can remember my first pair of shoes.”
It was the fall of 1999 and I was 14 years old, sitting in the basement at our old house in Clarion, working the computer. I had my back to the stairwell and was searching online for a new pair of shoes.
Out of nowhere, everything went dark and I felt warm hands covering my eyes.
“You should get the yellow ones.”
“Really? Don’t they seem kind of loud?”
“Well, hun, it’s you we’re talking about.”
They came in the mail about a week later and I couldn’t wait to show them to Tony, since he had, in fact, picked them out for me.
I wore them everywhere. During football games when the field was too muddy to wear our band uniforms, when we’d make trips to The Top of the World, and every basketball game I went to.
Tony said they were magical shoes. That they made me shine.
He died that following summer in 2000.
I remember going through all of my things, trying to find anything that tied me to Tony – refusing to admit he was gone. I tore my closet apart. Tears streaming down my face, angry at the world. All I found was an old Tar Heels sweatshirt of his and a few notes we had passed back and forth. Then, I looked at the ground and saw my yellow shoes.
Suddenly I didn’t feel so sad.
Maybe they really were magic shoes.
The shoes are 12 years old and I still wear them today. They’ve been a lot of places. They’ve covered a lot of miles. And not a moment goes by, while I’m sitting down and slipping them on, that I don’t remember the feeling of his warm hands over my eyes and his soft voice in my ear.
“…Your personality shines as bright as the sun, Cass.”
He really was a good friend.
And these are some really good shoes.
On Wednesday, I put on the shoes to go to yoga. Claire looked at them and said, “Those are some fancy shoes, Mama. They’re bright like the sun.”
I said, “They make me shine, Claire.”