I can't remember when I bought my last pair of tennis shoes. I do remember, maybe a couple of years ago, walking into Footlocker and seeing the wall of BRIGHT colors and thinking, 'oh my'.... Bright pink is charming on size 6 feet but not so much size 11, which is what I've sported since high school. Size 6 pink looks cute and sweet and feminine; size 11 pink looks like the Pepto Bismol plant exploded.
The alternative however, the white shoes in my size, looked like they'd be worn by some glaring nurse in a horror movie, so I went with the VERY bright pink. As time went on, and the miles clicked by, I grew more comfortable in them, and the fact of the matter was that in spite of their loud color, they felt wonderful on my feet.
I used to be very cheap, out of necessity, and once it wasn't quite as necessary, I became selectively cheap. There are some things I don't mind spending money on - travel, dinner out at a quiet restaurant whose default is to deliver baskets of bread dripping with oil, bras with serious support, and books. Shoes not so much. Likely because shoes are never, ever, ever fun to buy when you wear the size I do. So I put it off and put it off and as long as they still strap around my feet, I lie and tell myself that they are still doing their job. I put it off because good tennis shoes have become ridiculously expensive, and I'm at an age that the canvas and cardboard types would put me in traction if worn for two days straight.
I walk Miss Lily six days a week, or seven, depending on the weather, so my tennis shoes put miles on quickly. When we were in Idaho recently, I realized my feet hurt, and it was time to man up and buy new ones. Time to suffer through going to Footlocker again, ask what they happen to carry in my size, and be horrified at the price, especially in relation to the cuteness level. But I did. As soon as we got back to Texas I went to the shoe store where a limited-ability-to-communicate teenage boy did not bother to measure my feet, or suggest any shoes, but rather went back to the storeroom and brought me two choices from my multiple suggestions. When I asked him about over-pronation, he looked at me for a minute, then pointed to the underside of the shoe and said, 'yeah, that's why they put these pieces in them.'
I love it when people get technical with me.
What limited-ability-to-communicate teenage boy had brought me was two of the same shoe, except one was a cuter color than the other, and the cuter one was twice the cost of the less cute. Twice the cost, not as in $25 vs $50 but rather $60 vs $120. When I asked him if I was possibly mistaken, but by any chance were both the shoes identical except in color, he confirmed that the one on sale was last year's model. I strapped them on, took a stroll around the store, and knew immediately they were better than what I had walked in wearing. But nothing in me could stand to pay the extra $60 just to get the grey I preferred over the half-as-expensive sea foam green, so I bought the shoes, the cheaper ones.
The next day, still not thrilled over the sea foam green, because it will show every drop of dirt and I wash my tennis shoes so rarely it's not only embarrassing but possibly health-threatening, I shoved them on, laced them up and we were off.
The second I hit the sidewalk was shocking. I felt like Michael Jackson, moonwalking. The more I walked the better they felt. And I didn't care a bit that the color wasn't what I really wanted, I was just happy that I felt like I could walk forever. The sidewalk beneath my feet felt astonishingly different.
This got me to thinking why I'm so selectively cheap? About stuff that actually matters? Like not wanting to pay for shoes that will last me a year, versus the same amount (or more) for a meal that will last two hours at best? Or a vacation that will be over in a week? And why is America so dumb that we sell shoes that cost half as much just because they are last year's model, recently shelved, and the new cool color is twice the cost? And we pay it?
I don't have to waste money on this year's model of something, but I was months and months late buying new shoes. Taking that walk a few days ago, it occurred to me that just like good tennis shoes for walking, to provide the support my feet need, I also need support in the form of enough sleep on a regular basis, exercise, time to myself to combat stress, time to be creative, time spent talking to friends who know and love me, time for devotions, time sitting by the pool sipping a glass of something with CS at the end of the day.
Sometimes I do these things, but it's the thinking of it all as luxury, or excessive, or selfish, rather than life-support, that needs constant attending. Those concrete sidewalks were hurting my feet and legs and back and I didn't even know it; I just kept lacing them on, subjecting myself to miles and miles and miles of poor support, thinking I was saving money. I do that on a daily basis in my life, in so many areas besides worn out tennis shoes.
I'm happy with my new sea foam green tennis shoes, happy for how they feel, supporting me as I walk, happy I saved the $60, and maybe especially happy for the bright reminder that we are human beings, not human doings, and we all need support now and then. Taking it isn't selfish or lazy or undisciplined; rather, it's vital.