The boy with the red shoes

IMG_4878Today I took the plane home, to Lake Constance. We have a class reunion, 21 years after High School (we didn’t make it last year…)

I was looking forward to it – seeing old friend again… some I see every time I’m back at the Lake, some I haven’t seen in what might well be a decade.

I was also looking forward to seeing my parents again and spend a day with them, and also get a few remaining things that were still at their place, that didn’t fit when I came right after I returned:

My rubber bag that I bought in Chile, some travel guides I had left behind… and those red, heavy, oil-smeared security shoes I had bought in a second hand store in Auckland, New Zealand.

Besides a mug from Santiago, the Chilean rubber bag and a bag pack from Tokyo, those shoes were the only souvenir I had bought on this whole 18-month trip.

They were heavy and slightly too big, they were tough to wear and they had airport security on their feet when their big heavy screws set off the airport scanner’s alarms.

On the way home from the train station, my Dad confessed he had thrown them away.

I think I have never, ever lost it like this, and never screamed at someone like this. He apologized and tried to explain… but I was just screaming and swearing… I was devastated.

I calmed down after a minute. I told him it’s ok. They were only shoes… and I touched his shoulder and hair… he’s my Dad, after all, and yes, those were only old shoes.

And still, I can’t believe it. It’s like the throwing away of my shoes symbolizes so much more…

My Dad and I never had the best relationship, I always felt like he was distant, like he didn’t ‘get’ me and I didn’t ‘get’ him, even though he was there and helped with anything he could, from building a tree house to organizing my many moves as a student.

Things were better when I moved away to study, with daily frictions gone.

Still, you probably never forget or get over these things somehow, and throwing away those shoes probably just tore open old wounds, symbolizing all the non-understanding between us.

And the fact that your parents go through your stuff and throw things out, at 40, feels like being relegated to the small, powerless kid you once were, a role which you probably never totally lose, and a role in which they can fall into again oh too easily.

As if with those shoes he threw out this whole trip , which I feel none of my parents ever really grasped, and of which we never really talked about either, except for half a day when I came back from the first round, and another half day when it was over…

My parents who never asked once about the preparations – my Mom’s only comment being a shake of her head and saying I wouldn’t be able to afford it, and that was that until I sent them the copy of the RTW ticket…

For a moment, I didn’t even want to go home, I just wanted to get away and out…

But of course I went, and my mom had made dinner and we talked about stuff, and the Greek crisis… and when she mentioned the shoes I only said: I know, well, they were only old shoes (I think she already had a fight with my Dad over them…)

And yes, that’s all they were, oil-crusted, way-too-heavy and slightly too big shoes, that I had found for 40$ in a small shop on K-Road in Auckland, and which I wore throughout my New Zealand road trip, standing at Hot Water Beach at night and gazing at the enormity of the Milky Way at Lake Tekapo.

I’m still too shaken by this, and maybe I’m being childish. By and large, it does not really matter. I’ll remember everything about this trip, and it doesn’t really matter if I have these shoes or not.

And I keep saying it over and over, and I named this blog after it, it’s about letting go.

And in the end, I won’t remember him throwing away the red shoes. I’ll remember him building the tree house.

Thanks for listening. I just needed to vent this.

The boy in the red shoes.