Seriously, we started going steady when I was what, a sixth grader? I first saw you in the shoe section in the basement of the Brandeis store in downtown Lincoln. It was a Saturday, game day in the heart of Husker nation, and there you were, flashing your school spirit in all its red and white glory.
That’s when I knew we belonged together.
I asked my parents if I could bring you home, but they refused to get involved. No, if I planned on making you a part of my life, I would have to find a way without their assistance so I devised a plan to make you mine.
The next weekend, I returned to the place we first met, happy to find you were still available. I brought my stash of babysitting money I had been saving and forked over – if my memory has not faded – an Andrew Jackson and change.
Life with you was good. We survived playground battles, neighborhood hide ’n seek games and daily life.
By seventh grade, you started to break down and I knew I would need to find a replacement. When your parental unit, Converse, came out with an upgraded version, the one-star, I brought home three versions of you: red, white and black. Yes, it meant I spent a lot of time babysitting so I could own you, but Chuck, you were worth it.
Fall faded into winter which blurred into spring and hot weather. Twice. Your white cloth faded to a dingy grey, the red shoes lost a bit of luster and the black pair spent a lot of time in the back of my closet.
By the time I hit high school, my taste in shoes changed. Sure, my parents tried to sway my affection by presenting me with a new version of you – the pro leather Chucks – and even though you were my favorite color, I preferred something dressier.
You sat in my closet, out of sight, out of mind, for years. After finishing college, mom demanded she be allowed to clear the clutter and you fell victim to her cleaning spree.
I will admit: I had not thought about you, Chuck, until a little over a year ago when I saw you on the clearance rack at Target. Maybe I was going through a midlife crisis, but I felt this longing to feel young again, or at least have a comfortable pair of what had once been my favorite shoes, so you came home with me once again.
And now, there’s a new, updated you, released by your new parental unit, Nike. After 98 years, you still have that iconic patch, but inside, you have been upgraded for comfort for my tired and stress-fractured feet.
Oh Chuck, I am fighting the urge to rush out, wrap my arms around you, my trusted friend, and carry you home; fighting the urge to feel like an All-Star, again.