31 Letters in 31 days: Letter 4 – Dear army boots

Dear army boots,

I bought you for £15 from a small army shop that smelt of oil, damp and metal. You were battered and worn, a pair of boots most people wouldn’t give a second glance to, but I shoved scrunched up newspaper right to very tips of you, and left you to take shape again. I was impatient; kept picking you up and marvelling at my very first proper pair of real army boots. I polished you until your scuffs slipped away under layers of black polish and you started to shine like nothing else. I was so excited when you were ready to wear properly. I put aside my trusty Doc Martens and tied you up. That was it. I was so proud with you on my feet. I tucked my combats and jeans and leggings and tights into you. I liked showing you off and felt powerful and oh so confident. Nothing could touch me. Everything had to suit you, not the other way around. I was besotted with the way you made my feet feel. You felt like a second skin and I was devastated when I had to stop wearing you. I wore you until holes started to form in your soles, and I couldn’t stop the water from seeping in at the sides. It was in Stockholm, in a boat hotel that I said my final goodbyes to you. I shoved you in a small, plastic bin. If I could have kept you, I would have done. But Cumbria wouldn’t let up the rain just for me. I was worried someone might come and pick you out of the bin and wear you. Like an ex-boyfriend, I still loved you, every inch of you, and walking away in Birkenstocks when it should have been you on my feet was the hardest thing. I still think about you, every now and then. I now have a beautiful, new pair of rangers, and they are getting to the point where they feel so comfortable I can forget they are on. But despite their magnificence and practically they will never replace you. We did so much together; festivals, travelling, hiking, gigs, mountain climbing. People would comment and say ‘I like your distressed boots,’ but you were never distressed. You weren’t the type you could buy for a tenner, the type that would last for five minutes before disintegrating. You and me, we were solid from the word go until the end.

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