boots

I don’t realize that I could have let emotion reign over reason until I’m home and my partner asks, “So how did you pay for it?” This latest episode was about shoes. If we’re honest, though, this recent binge wasn’t just me, but a partnership in which each of our purchases inspired another. And then it’s spring, if not astronomically then spiritually.

The weather has been giving us glimpses of an end to winter. Snow has melted except for the most aggressive piles in the recesses of north facing slopes. Co-conspiring with the weather is a series of great deals and new shipments at our local shoe outlet. It turns out that certain clothing manufacturers have the good sense to set up shops and offices where they are close to rivers and mountains, and so people like me have good access to 40% off gear on almost any given day, as well as the geography to put it to good use. And that’s where this all started; but I’ll lay the blame, at least initially, on Karyn.

She was the first one to set foot into the shop because she wanted to have dedicated trail shoes to compliment her road shoes. The argument can be made — and often is in this house — that we’re not being extravagant but, rather, actually taking good care of our footwear by only using them for exactly what they’re meant for, and thus extending the life of all of our purchases. The thing is, when you visit our favorite outlet, they often entice the shopper with a second pair of shoes for an even deeper discount … and so rarely does one come home with a single item. If we’re really, truly honest with ourselves, we will admit that we’re both shoe sluts.

As for myself, I was inspired by the idea that an extra set of shoes was not redundant, but practical. And so I found myself at another running store to see if my own favorite trail shoes or their road-running brothers were on the discount rack, since they were last year’s models. Of course they were. Both pairs. And so how do I decide which to get? I’ll run more on the trail, but I’m running a half marathon on the road in two months — but they’re each 30% off, so I’m saving money in the long run by buying both. It’s an investment, I tell myself. And, to learn at the checkout that this line of shoes has been ended in favor of a completely new line was all the information I needed to sign the credit receipt with utmost confidence that I was a step ahead, justified in my purchase and improving my condition.

But that wasn’t the purchase that led to the question of how we were going to actually budget the expense. This actually came a week later, after realizing the great deals that my partner was getting and that the outlet had just received a new shipment of backpacking boots that I’d been needing (as much as anyone needs backpacking boots) and anticipating. And there I was, just “taking a look” in between errands, which I knew, deep down, was always hoping to be more than just looking. Shoe shopping is like dating in this way, except that shoe shopping is more hopeful.

I came home with new boots, anticipating a backpack expedition in the desert in two months.

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I could continue to blame Karyn for being a bad influence, or I could even admit that I have my own challenges when it comes to self-restraint and new gear. (For as much as I lurk in outdoor gear stores and peruse online catalogs and read Backpacker guides and reviews, I think I do well.) But really the thing to blame is spring. In spite of all the other things that draw and distract my attentions, a little bit of good weather gives us a sense for what’s to come, as well as the inspiration to begin to plan for it. Maybe, too, there’s the allure in finding a project that can be simple and consuming at the same time. There are no interruptions when trying on shoes; and the fixation on a race or a remote destination still months away, just over a horizon, is the kind of deliberate planning I wish I had in all aspects of my life. These boots aren’t just whimsy, then, but a rare display of hope and foresight. So while I still don’t have an answer for how I’m paying for them, I do know exactly how to justify them.

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