Old Friends they shine like diamonds
Old Friends you can always call
Old Friends Lord you can’t buy ’em
You know it’s Old Friends after all
— the prophet guy clark
It’s the last waltz.
I’m on the track with Mo. I’m wearing the blue Zantes, the ones I’ve been running in forever. And I realize it’s time.
I’m not sure how long I’ve had these guys. Running Jill from Colorado had raved about them and I’m a sucker for New Balance, so I figured what the heck. It was love at first run. I always smile when someone asks what shoe they should get, because you never know till you put them on. And then you know. I knew.
I have a new pair I wear occasionally, but these guys are my friends. I’ve been hanging onto them way too long, but I didn’t want to let them go. Till today.
I can feel it, in that way you feel it when you’ve been running a while. There’s just something about them. No spring, no response. The “foam fresh” isn’t. The outsides of the soles are wearing out, making my knees hurt. And they’re failing the Big Toe Test. I figure when you can see your big toes during the run, that’s it.
We finish our Gumbo 5K and walk off the track for the last time. I feel bad that the shoes don’t know yet. I never even named them. But they’re my friends. I’ll miss them.
I come home, take off my running clothes (please close your eyes), and place them in the closet for the last time, next to the shiny new shoes eager to take their place.
I shower as I get ready for work. I pull on the old jeans with the hole in the butt, put on my golf shirt with the hole in the front (notice a theme in my wardrobe?) and the ASU baseball cap I’ve bean wearing for 10 years. And then I put on my New Work Shoes.
They’re a pair of blue Zantes. They feel great, even if they smell kind of funny. You don’t need a lot of padding to edit stories, and nobody at work cares if they can see your toes. We’ve got a bunch of miles ahead of us.
That’s the thing about old friends. You never really lose them. They’re out there in the universe in some form. You celebrate all those miles you put in together; you keep the memory in a place where it will live forever. You go on.
“He died that day because his body had served its purpose. His soul had done what it came to do, learned what it came to learn, and then was free to leave,” Garth Stein said of Enzo the dog. Maybe that’s how it is with all of us. I don’t know.
All I know is that old shoes and old friends and old memories never really die. That’s the best thing about life.
You keep waltzing.