It was the Fall of 1999. I had just transferred from Lipscomb University in Tennessee to Harding University in Arkansas. While I had liked Lipscomb, the social quality at Harding was beyond compare. Harding dorm life taught me the value of staying up until 1am taking pictures of friends with bras on our heads, dressing up like tramps (because we were way too chicken to actually dress like that for real. Also, we had taste.) and again taking pictures, running around mooning everyone on our floor, crank calling the guy dorms, and stealing all the towels while people were showering. Good times.
It was during these hijinks that I learned the value of warm feet. While it was hilarious fun to run around in the wee hours of the morning doing stupid things, ones feet often got cold. And so, one evening I went to The Wal-Mart. Now, The Wal-Mart in Searcy, Arkansas is not just A Wal-Mart. It is where a college student goes to buy everything. Everything. It is where you grocery shop, where you hang out with friends when you are bored, and where you buy all the orange markers for Shantih Pledge Week (or whatever color the rest of you used). It was on one of these myriad trips to The Wal-Mart that I found them. A hot pink pair of fuzzy, tacky, cheap house slippers. And knowing that I planned to run around doing something that night, I had to have them.
Over my years at Harding, these slippers were one of the only things that never changed. I wore them every night without fail during my sophomore year of craziness, my junior year of fake maturity, my first senior year of Resident Advisery (a.k.a. strict Christian college curfew checker), and my last senior semester of marriage. The pink began to fade, the tred completely wore off, and they started to take on a generally gnarly appearance. But I didn't care. You see, I loved them.
When Dave and I had both graduated and we moved to Texas, I packed up all our belongings and readied them for storage at his parents house where we would be living until Dave found a job. The first night there, I went to get in my jammies and when I looked for my pink house shoes....they were missing. I took a deep breath and looked through a few boxes. Nothing. I took some more faster, shallow breaths and looked through some more boxes. Nothing. By this point, Dave was looking at me with not a little worry as I started to hyperventilate and cry because I couldn't find these slippers. And then, they appeared. To this day, I think God did me a little favor because at some point, I had attached security to those slippers.
And again, years passed.
I wore the slippers while pregnant with Taylor, in the wee morning hours of nursing. I wore them as we moved to a new home and through another pregnancy with Little David and countless nights of wee hour wakings. I can look back at the last 9 years, and in almost every evening memory I have, those slippers are there. They went with me on our trip to England, on our trips to visit family, and on our 5th anniversary trip. Those slippers are packed with almost ten years of memories.
But, a pair of slippers can only last so long. At some point, the charming gnarliness turned to absolute death. They are barely pink anymore, instead an almost flesh color. Gross, I know. The padding long since washed away, they are so worn through that I can literally fit my entire foot through a hole in the front left slipper. It's way past time, but I couldn't give up on them.
I became aware last summer that I was going to have to do something about the shoes. I looked high and low, searched through every slipper aisle at every store, I even returned to a Wal-Mart in hopes of finding maybe a younger sibling. But nothing called to me. There were only mere shadows of the relationship that I'd grown to have with my slippers. I would rather wear my slippers to threads than to wear some imitation.
And then, God smiled on me.
This morning I was at Big Lots after hearing that they now carried my favorite $1 make up, e.l.f. (total let down, but the way, the selection was depressing). As I perused the aisles, I saw a giant heap of discounted slippers. Because I am a glutton for punishment, I peeked through the discarded DearFoams and the nameless shapes that barely deserved the name "shoe", and somewhere in the middle of the wreckage I saw them. They were pink, like my shoes, but they had a pale orange inside. The fabric was nearly identical in fluffy cheapness, and the soles were the same, even sharing the flap of fabric on the heel meant to keep the slipper on but invariably just getting stepped into flatness. I had found My New Slippers.
And so, an era has passed.
As I type this, I have my new pink slippers on my feet and my old ones right beside me. It only seemed fitting to let them see this last tribute. I'm trying to think of a good way to keep them, without them sitting stale on my closet floor, a ghost of what they once were.
I'm thinking Shadow Box. With soft lighting. And maybe a candle.