“Where are my shoes?” my mom would question; once, twice, even three times a day. My dad would find his leather slippers missing and my sisters’ sandals were never to be seen. Even the guests, leaving our house after a visit, would ponder over where they last left their shoes, and why they were not conveniently by the door.
I have always been fascinated by shoes. I am not entirely sure why or how it started, maybe I had a young eye for design or maybe it just was a mischievous way for me to play dress-up when nobody was looking. My reasoning has since evolved and I have found a deeper, less materialistic meaning to shoes and a further appreciation for the special tools that help us move about our individual lives.
Here in Italy, I have seen all different kinds of shoes, some with familiar branding but others I have never heard of. Some are worn, evident of a fulfilled life, while others are fresh and clean, maybe even worn by a smiling child: eager to show off their new back-to-school look. The best place to observe is the Roma Termini train station. It is filled with fast paced people heading to a part of their varying paced lives. All equally important and honestly at the root of it all, quite similar to one another. At the least, their shoes are the common denominator.
I have been able to find at least one thing in common with every person here, even if language is not one of them. Being able to travel has not only allowed me to see just how small I am in this large world, but also has allowed me to gain a new perspective on the everyday, mundane parts of life. I enjoy feeling small and unobserved because I feel free and untethered. I am free to live and learn from mistakes without many external worries. I have obtained more knowledge these last 6 weeks than I could have ever imagined and am excited to translate what I have learned while I finish school and begin the next phase of my life.
There will come a time, hopefully many years ahead, where the memories of Italy will not be so fresh in my mind. I won’t remember the correct way to pronounce certain words or the feeling of sipping an espresso will begin to feel foreign. But, I know that I will always remember the Docs that encompassed Jessie so well. I will remember the white sneakers with tie-dye laces that Sophie consistently wore. The platform converse Morgan rocked and the silver Supergas Sandra shocked our class with. How could I forget about Gabby’s tiny, embroidered Nike blazers?
I encourage those who are reading this to find something special that you can observe. Something that often catches your eye and you can’t help but respectfully stare. Find things that are interesting to you and that you will remember. Recognize those things but also their surroundings. Get curious! Think of questions and ask them if you can. You will be able to remember these moments for the rest of your life.
Our shoes have been an essential tool of our experience in Italy. They have allowed us to walk the ancient Roman streets, dance in Sorrento, climb the Spanish steps and ultimately, arrive safely back home in 6 short weeks.
Remember, just take it one step at a time and don’t forget to look at cute shoes along the way.