Once upon a time I spent a summer in Florence, Italy.
It was the summer between my Sophomore and Junior year in college. It was a blissful time in my life: no boyfriend, no decided major yet, no job, and a wide open summer schedule. I had considered moving to Hawaii to do a few semesters at BYU-Hawaii, but when my mother called to say she was moving to Italy for the summer (perks of being a teacher–summers off), it was an easy decision. I packed a suitcase, a few books for the train rides, walking shoes, and of course my camera. Back then I had a humble Cannon point-and-shoot with a full screen on back, and I loved that thing. This was when iPhones had come out but only a few friends had those. Most of us still had Razor’s, Sidekicks, or slider phones.
We rented an apartment near the heart of Florence, and made that our home base. We were then able to take several-days-long trips all over Italy. We had been to other countries in Europe before, and wanted to spend our summer really getting to know just one country. Every time we came back from Venice or Rome, Florence welcomed us with warm summer evenings and beautiful sunsets. We came to know those who lived on our street, our favorite bakeries, and singing at Marco Square.
One evening we were walking from the train station to our apartment after a few days of traveling to the south. We were always too cheap to pay for a taxi ride so instead would walk several miles, passing through the square where many shops were located, back to our apartment. It was late at night and most everything was closed or closing. We were passing a small store that was wedged in between two buildings of flats (apartments) that had shoes and a few pieces of clothing. The owner was an old, mostly bald man, who was smoking a cigarette out front. I had walked past this shop several times before, but this time something caught my eye.
They were the perfect height, just a few inches. I loved them because they resembled wood, and I loved the strap in the back. I was so tired, but am I ever too tired to shop? I tried them on. They were only about $5 US. They were perfect. I bought them.
For several years after returning, I wore them constantly. Each time I did, I would remember that little shop in Florence. When people would compliment me and ask where I got them I would tell them this short story and remember my summer in Italy.
They were not high quality slip-ons, but I was still surprised to find one Sunday at church that the sides were ripping from the sole. I was so sad. My little Italian shoes could not be worn anymore. A few years passed, and all they’ve done is sit on my shoe shelf. I’ve lugged them around between moves, and just haven’t been able to part with them.
I recently finished a life changing book (that I’ll post about soon) that has helped me say to the items in my life, “Thank you for coming into my life.” And then, fighting my inner pack-rat, let them go.
Thank you, Stella Land shoes, for being comfy, cute, and for lasting as long as you did. I will never forget all the streets I walked in your shoes.