New Boots: Mourning My Losses 3

new bootsT wanted a fitness tracker for his birthday, so the kids and I went to REI. Back in the day I would have been in hiking heaven at REI; nowadays it’s depressing and I usually get what I need as quickly as possible and leave again. But I had the kids with me and though I knew I was asking for trouble, I felt I should look around with them and point out gear that resembles mine, and tell them how I used to do this and that, and hey look, that’s about the size my backpack was, etc, etc.

B and R followed me around, politely oh-ing and ah-ing and not having a clue what I was talking about, because it’s a different world for them–one I never was able to share with them. Within five minutes I was headed for the door and reached the car just in time for the tears. I apologized to the kids and told them we’d order a tracker online. They were pretty quiet all the way home.

Two weeks later we took a three-week road trip to Glacier National Park in Montana, and Banff and Jasper in Canada. When we were loading the car, T held up a pair of hiking boots–the  cheaper, glorified sneakers that the kids and I would buy if we needed them for vacations. Me because I don’t hike enough to justify buying real boots, and the kids because we couldn’t justify buying real boots while their feet were still growing. Anyway, he asked me if these were mine, and I looked briefly and said yes, thinking that, if they were in the master closet, and they weren’t real boots, they were probably mine.

In Glacier NP it turned out they weren’t mine. So that’s what it’s come to: I don’t even recognize my own hiking boots, because I need them so infrequently and because I don’t get attached to those pieces of cheap junk. But it was all good, because I had my regular walking shoes and for the kind of walks I went on, I really didn’t need anything more.

I skipped the first few hikes T and the kids went on, but I joined them for a 2-mile hike that was rated “easy”. It was nice and cool that day, and even though there were some inclines that would’ve killed me in a Texas summer–or spring or autumn, for that matter–it was doable, and I enjoyed it. The next day, T and the kids were going to go on an all-day hike, and I spent the day in Banff, where I decided I was going to get some proper hiking boots again, bugger the cost.

Acutely aware that I was the only obese person in a serious outdoor sports store, I barged my way to the back and jogged upstairs to the hiking boots. Okay, I jogged up five steps to the hiking boots. A young assistant from New Zealand immediately asked if she could help me, in a tone that–to me, anyway–seemed to indicate she fully expected me to be lost.

I told her I was going to browse and that I’d let her know when I had found what I was looking for. “Okay”, she said, sounding dubious. But she went to do something behind the counter. It didn’t take me long to find what I wanted, and I asked her if she had them in my size, and some hiking socks for fitting. She did, and as I sat down to put on the socks, she said I had chosen the best boots in the store. As if that was an accident.

When she got all the paper out of one of the boots, I put it on, thunked my heel back before she could tell me to, and started tying the laces. I was also too fast for her to show me how to loop the laces downward over the top hooks, and she commented–and this time I really didn’t imagine her surprise–that oh, I knew about that, did I? So I told her that I knew I didn’t look it, but I had actually done quite a bit of hiking–it had just been a while. And we talked about hiking, and new boots, and I mentioned how most boots fit like a glove if you completely soak them in a stream and then walk them dry. Ha, she didn’t know that!

For the first time in a while, I left an outdoor sports store in a good mood. I just love confusing people.

To be continued.

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