“Who are you?” said the Caterpillar…
“I–I hardly know, Sir, just at present,” Alice replied rather shyly, “at least I know who I was when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then.”
–Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
These are two pairs of my shoes.
Yes, they are both the same shoe. Steve Madden, gray suede, cute Mary Jane buckle and the perfect height heel for my liking. But their differences define them from there.
Pair #1 is worn and comfortable. The shoes have lost their original constitution and could now be used to make perfect molds of my feet (should anyone ever be in need of that). At the bottom of the wedge of the right shoe, the suede has been worn down to nonexistence from being rubbed against the floormat while my foot pressed the pedal on my 13.8 mile drive to and from work every day for the past three years. The cute Mary Jane buckle has been reinforced three times now with glue and thread. They are a much lighter gray than when I bought them three years ago. They have, well…a smell.
Pair #2 is fresh out of the box (or NIB as eBay would say). They look good but are a bit tight on my feet. Their buckles are intact and their gray is a perfect slate color. Not having been worn while driving, the right wedge heel is perfectly covered in suede. We are unfamiliar.
This past Friday, I ended my job at a museum that has come to be such a part of me that it is hard to remember myself pre-Skirball. Tomorrow, I begin my journey at at a new, unfamiliar but exciting museum–LACMA.
These past few weeks have been some of the most confusing of my life. Deciding to apply and then interview and then accept a new position and resign from my old position was not an easy process for me. I freaked out. I cheered. I walked a lot. I cried. I got sick. But, with the help of my friend Zach, I came to realize the importance of recognizing and coming to terms with big life transitions. I decided to say proper goodbyes and hellos and to be present in recognizing this big transition in my life. It is, after all, an ending that makes a beginning possible. (William Bridges)
For some reason, the shoes tell the story best.
I purchased Pair #1 on eBay a little over three years ago when I was getting “work clothing” together before I started my internship at the Skirball. I still remember opening the box and seeing them, not realizing that the internship I bought them for would blossom into the beginning of my nonprofit museum marketing career. My Skirball colleagues know these shoes well. Like the Skirball, it took a while and some blisters before they began to feel comfortable and right. We fit together. The strange thing was, when I finally decided that this pair of shoes had given all they could, but had come to their wearable end, I also decided that the end had come for me at the Skirball. I received Pair #2 in the mail the night before my last day at the museum. When I took them out of their box, I just stared. They were my future staring back at me. They don’t quite fit right yet. We don’t know each other, but I like them.
Tomorrow morning, I will strap on my new shoes and walk them the two blocks (!) down the street to my new job. Like the strains of a new position, I am sure it will take a while for me and Pair #2 to get to know each other, but I sense an exciting future ahead.
**And yes, like an old man or something, I buy the same pair of shoes over and over…I can’t help it. I love these shoes! Looks like Alice does too…=)