How many shoes do you own throughout your life? Probably more than you can count, or at least more than you can remember. When you’re first born you have no shoes. Your parents might stick them on you, but you kick them right off and you never remember them. You typically don’t remember shoes until you’re at least 3 or 4. At that point shoes actually mean something to you.

In preschool you have many shoes you remember. You have a pair of white sandals with butterflies on the strap. You love them because they’re comfortable, but you’re sad because they are open-toed. You can’t wear them to school. You tried once and got in trouble. One day at a swap-meet you meet your new favorite pair; black boots with beads on the fringe. You love them so much, and wear them almost raw. One day at school, you step into a dog’s mess and you cry because your mom refuses to clean them, and throws them in the trash. You cry and cry. You beg your grandmother to go back to the swap-meet only to find there are no more. You will never find a pair of black boots with beads on the fringe again. You learn a new sentiment that day: resentment.

Time goes on and you own more shoes. You own red, glittery flats that are like Dorothy’s in The Wizard of Oz. They aren’t very comfortable, but they are nice. They are pretty, and you think they make you look fancy.

In elementary school you are unsure of yourself, you wear Nike sneakers almost everyday because your mom goes on about something called “arch-support”. Other kids question your fashion choices. You have other shoes too, like a pair of more fashionable Converse, some slip-ons with a cute, cherry print on them, and galoshes for when it rains. Everyone laughs at you when you call them galoshes. They’re rain boots.

Part of you still hurts over the loss of your black boots with the beaded fringe, but eventually you invest in a new pair of black boots. They are fashionable, comfortable, and go with almost every occasion – unless you’re wearing a dress, then your mom gets mad at you for wearing a dress and boots together. You wear them to the ground. You wear them in winter, in spring, in summer, and in fall. You wear them around the corner and on vacation. By middle school they are worn out. You want to preserve these black boots so you try and wear them less, switching between your comfortable Nikes and your Converse. The boots are still your favorite, though.

Other colored boots don’t really interest you. You’ve tried on grey ones, brown ones, and even a fancy pair of red ones, but you can’t seem to get past the black boot. You wonder if it’s because your mom threw away your ones with the fringe.

One day your best friend is over; she also has a pair of black boots, and she ends up accidentally switching yours with hers when she leaves. You don’t notice until the next day, and your foot slips into something alien. You quickly pull your foot out and scowl – those aren’t your boots. You text your best friend and let her know the mistake. She says she noticed, and she’ll bring them back next time she sees you.

It’s months. Every weekend she seems to forget, meanwhile her boots sit aside, unused, because they are not comfortable. She ends up wearing your boots everywhere. When you finally get them back they have holes in the sole and are unusable. You give her back her boots, the same as the day she left them, and throw yours in the trash.

You don’t own black boots for a minute after that.

When you go to high school you are over shoes. When it’s cold you throw on Converse, and most days you wear plain, black flip-flops because your high school lets you. Eventually you stop this practice though, because you’re tired of washing your feet every day after school and watching the water turn brown as it travels down the drain.

Converse become the main shoe. You also now own a pair of very expensive brown shoes; they are leather and handmade. You only wear them for special occasions, but sometimes when you are feeling down you wear them to school because of the height they give you, and the way they click as you walk on the concrete makes you feel powerful. As with all dress shoes though, you can only take them in small doses because they hurt your feet after a while.

One day, you’re making a costume for Halloween, and it calls for black boots. You grimace, thinking about all the times black boots have left you. It’s ok though; you’re in college now. That girl is no longer your friend, and if you step in a dog’s mess you will just clean it. You head to Target and buy a pair. They fit you like a glove, and make your feet look quite nice. You wear them happily for a couple of years, but they are from Target, and no matter how hard you try, you cannot save Target shoes. You eventually throw them out when they are too worn to keep your feet warm. You try another Target pair but you get the same results.

College has been tough, and you’re pretty poor these days. You could never afford fancy brown dress shoes, or even white sandals with butterflies on the straps. You walk along the shoe aisle of Savers, not really looking for anything in particular. You’re wearing Converse right now, but then you spot them. Black boots. They’re your size. They are Steve Maddens, 100% Leather, and $12.00. You blink, try them on, and smile when they fit perfectly. Better than any of the other black boots you have worn throughout the years. You don’t have $12.00 even though that’s cheap for shoes like these. You put it on your emergency credit card, and bring them home.

You wear them constantly; with dresses, to the beach, around the corner, on a date, at the airport. Practically everywhere except the shower. You’ve learned a lot of lessons about shoes, especially black boots. You know how to take care of black boots now, and even when they get scuffed up, you’ve purchased polish to shine them right up. The sole will likely wear out, as all shoes do, and you worry just a bit. Perhaps by chance or by fate you stay at an old cottage in Santa Cruz with a best friend, and it has the heater in the floor. You stand on the grate, unaware of how hot it is. When you step off there is new tread burned into them. You laugh with your best friend. You take good care of these black boots, and they take good care of you.