Cotton candy pink Chuck Taylors with innocent white laces and just a hint of sock, walking quickly over warm spring pavement. I love these shoes--have worn various shades and incarnations of them since middle school. I feel kindred, as though I could buy understanding in a shoe for $39.95. Fuck the culture, fuck the trend; these shoes are classic. They are me. My mother says they look like clown shoes, so I buy another pair.
I am twenty-three years old, look more like thirty and feel more like seventy. I'm tired. These shoes couple with my smile to create the last hint of my youth, a spirit I hope will never die. But none of this matters right now. Right now what matters is that my shoes are shuffling away, me inside them, from a monster. My feet slap against the parking lot as I walk to my car.
My flight instinct has kicked into overdrive and the only thing stopping me from bolting to the car is that tap-tap-tap of my shoes. They remind me of when I was eight, when riding a bicycle was the most wonderous feeling in the world. I want to be free like that again, with my Chucks perched on the pedals of a good Schwinn. The shoes stop; I stop. Is he watching?
Two days ago, looking into his solemn blue eyes made my pulse quicken. But the truth, coating our relationship like a slick elixir, became this: I was already moving on. Two days ago, I was telling this man I loved him in the softest bedroom whisper. Now, walking away from him as though he were a swing at a park, I want him to hurt. I want my nonchalant dismissal of our relationship to mean something profound to him. I want him to call out to me, to give me reasons to stay. Step right up folks, see the hideous monster. Isn't she awful?
I am awful. In bubblegum sneakers and a babydoll tee I am a predator. I stalk from person to person, greedily learning all there is to know about them, luring them into a relationship I know is doomed before it begins. Carnivorously, I live the experience before tossing it aside, the thrill gone.
I am the monster, but after years of devouring others I'm finally attempting to walk away from that part of myself. Despite this urgency, the traffic continues to move, sunshine continues to brush the March wind against a plain blue palette. I realize that if I'm ever going to outrun this beastly part of myself, I desperately need him to be watching. I so want those eyes to see what's chasing me, to understand. If he is watching, I'm not alone. I matter. If he is watching, then that unfeeling, manipulative part of me cannot win because someone loves me, loves me enough that I can love myself. I can leave the monster behind and be happy, be youthful and free if I can just get him to watch. If only.
But he doesn't even look. Gone is the childish whimsy of a happy ending. I can't conjure the feel of wind from the speeding bicycle anymore. And so I dive into my car, start the engine and drive off without fanfare, one pink shoe to the gas pedal. A few minutes later I dare to look into my rearview mirror. I see that nothing has changed. The monster stares back at me. I'm still young enough to believe that, with the right shoes, I can outrun it.