Today, I laid a fallen warrior to rest.
Well, not put to rest, exactly. They’re not totally dead. But they were definitely put out to pasture. After a long battle bravely fought, they’re ready to retire.
They were bought out of desperation. I’d been working at The Egg for almost four years, and I was blowing through work shoes like tissues during cold season. Longest I could get a pair of shoes to hold out was nine months; then one day I’d look down, and there would be a gaping hole in the side of the toe box, and that would be it. I tried Chucks, I tried New Balances, I tried Sketchers; none of them held up. And I was sick of it.
So I figured I would cut right to the motherfucking chase. What were the most hardcore, the toughest shoes I could possibly buy? I was looking for the Shrerman tank, the brick shithouse of shoes. I already owned a pair of floral Dr Martens, and I knew how solidly they were built. I figured if I couldn’t get a pair of Docs to hold up, nothing else would. So I purchased a pair of original 1460’s, in black. Nothing much to lose.
Our relationship was marred in the outset. It wasn’t their fault. Some would blame the boots for be uncomfortable, but the problem was really mine. I didn’t enter the relationship with realistic expectations. See, my first pair of Docs were a very soft leather right out of the box. They required little to no breaking-in, and I could wear them immediately without any discomfort. But I quickly learned that this was not so with the 1460s. Made with a more robust leather, they left their mark on me (literally) the very first time I wore them. I still bear the scars of our first time out. But over time, they softened, as people and boots do, and I grew to love my black work Docs. I knew that come hell or high water, 52′ truck or 16 hour day, I could count on them to keep my feed dry and comfortable. They were always there for me.
But unfortunately, nothing is indestructible. And I wore my Docs hard. I didn’t just walk around in them; I kicked things with them, I bore down on them, I stomped on things, I walked on them relentlessly for 16 hours at a stretch. My Docs may have been hardcore, but I was more so. They began to show their wear with scuffs on the toes. Then the ball of the sole was worn smooth. And finally, a hole in the right toe formed. It was the first time I caught a peek of my orange sock winking at me through the breach in the leather that I knew that my Docs had run their course, and their time was coming to a close. I wore them for another three weeks, at least, but I knew that they were done. Though they fought valiantly, you just can’t outlive my life on deck. I worked probably 600 shows in those babies, and they were tired.
And so, I lay to rest my first pair of work Docs. You weren’t my first pair of Dr Martens, but you were the first to fight by me side-by-side in the trenches, to walk the catwalks of my theatre with me day after day. I never begrudge you giving up, but goddamn, I will miss you. I can’t bring myself to throw you away, I just can’t. I’ll keep you around for wearing with outfits that beg a classic footwear, preferably paired with something girly and soft. (And thanks to hipster fashion, your scuffs and tears only make you more legit.) But your time in the dark of the theatre is over.
Rest well, dear friend.
And yet, this is not just an ending. This is also a beginning. For today, I also welcomed a new friend into my Dr Marten family. Say hello to my new work Docs. They’re not quite ready for life on deck yet. They’re stiff and shiny, having not yet kicked out a marley floor or nudged a vertical stick of truss into place. They don’t know what it is to dig into a dock plate to keep a road case coming off a truck from running away. And they haven’t yet braved a 16-hour day with me.
But they will. They’ll fight me, that’s for sure, and I don’t doubt that they’ll leave their own marks in my skin before our time together is done. But before too long, they’re be just as roughed up and bear just as many scuffs as their predecessors.
Tomorrow, our journey begins.