We had taken a wrong turn at the Plougat turn-off and found ourselves passing through Chateauldren, a Petite Cité de Caractère (small village of character; history and beauty). Photo above shows homes alongside the village canal. I will always remember the wrong turn and the village of Chateaualdren because of what I brought back with me from a small glass paneled shoe-store.
Passing through the main road – staring out the car window at the hairdresser, Beautician, Marie’s office, Pattiserie and Pizza Restaurant – I caught the glimpse of something red; a pair of boots on display behind glass. I implored mum to pull over and I rushed to the window. The red boots I had seen were a childrens’ pair: suede, black laces, black rubber sole. They would never fit me. They did however fit my mum so she now wears these boots. Being dejected by the result of my spontaneity I looked at the other boots they had. I tried on a pair of taupe suede, laced, rubber soled boots with fur-lined fold-down flaps (Les Tropéziennes par M Belarbi). I liked them but certainly didn’t realize at the time that they would become my closet companion and part of my identity.
I wore them straight away; they made me feel like I belonged as I walked the streets of our Breton village through two foot deep snow, careful of my grip on the compacted ice.
It would be a few years before I replaced the cream laces with those of my Zamberlan hiking boots deciding to fold up the fur flaps and wrap the longer laces around them. The cream laces: I knotted into bracelets which have become staple jewelry pieces in my wardrobe.
My boots have been resoled twice and every time they await collection at the cobblers (sometimes for many weeks because our German cobbler is a 45 minute drive away) I feel a loss and a longing; and an immense joy when I put them on again for the first time. Similar to when I wait for summer to end so that on the first crisp morning of autumn I can choose a pair of knee-high socks, ceremoniously tie up the laces and sit down to have breakfast.
Here is a list of some of the places my boots have been and the things they have done:
- Walked through two foot deep snow
- Treaded on the ice covered road from our village to the butchers in the next village
- Waded through two inch deep water in the car-park of my Lake Macquarie sailing club during a storm
- Kept my feel warm during my Year 12 formal after party (should I mention the frost of the first hours past midnight?)
- Trekked the hard-packed earth streets of Kathmandu
- Walked the cobbled avenues of Paris and the paved backstreets of Mayfair, London
- Danced the Tarantella and Waltz on stage as part of a pirate’s costumes in the Broadway Production of Peter Pan the Musical
- Metaphorically held my hand on my first date
- Ran the 400, 200 and 100 meter sprints at school athletics carnival (worn with knee-high socks and a high-waisted floral skirt)
- Visited the polished marble floors of the Porsche museum, Stuttgart
- Comforted me during my HSC Advanced Maths exam; tucked underneath my chair
- Gave me confidence whilst performing in a band on stage for a youth conference
When I wear my Les Tropéziennes par M Belarbi boots I feel like I can conquer the world (or at least whatever the day will throw at me); they remind me of places I’ve been and good times I’ve had; they’ve become a part of me and of the way I dress, representing a way of life and love of life.
By Emily C
Do you have a special piece of clothing or luggage that has travelled with you and has a story to tell? We would love to know, so please share in comments below.
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