My First Nikes

When I was thirteen the only thing I wanted in life was a pair of Nike’s. I had just joined the track team at my middle school and as my teammates frolicked happily in their brand name kicks I was forced to shuffle clumsily around in my L.A. Gear high tops. It was mortifying.

My mom was working at Wal-Mart at the time, funding both our family and her PhD studies. I have five siblings and money was very tight, so if it didn’t come from Wal-Mart, we usually didn’t get it. But with every track practice my desire for Nikes grew. I had to have them. I began to casually mention nonexsistent blisters, phantom foot pain and the high probability that my L.A. Gear shoes were flawed, shoddy and dangerous.

I knew the juxtaposition of glaring white Nikes against my skin would make me look tan and toned, make my hair shinier and my teeth whiter. People would finally notice me. I would be part of the crowd that everyone wanted to be part of. These shoes would change my life if ANYONE LOVED ME ENOUGH TO BUY THEM. Finally, after weeks of what can only be described as adolescent terrorism my mom relented and at a trip to the mall, bought my first pair of Nikes.

They were beautiful. Everything I’d imagined and more. I could barely sleep that night, giddy at the prospect of the life changes that awaited me with these magical sneakers.

The next day at track practice I slipped them on and walked -nay, floated- to the field, high off the power the name brand gave me. I was appalled to learn that in an attempt to mix things up we were forgoing our usual laps to play Ultimate Frisbee. I eyed the football field suspiciously, seeing it as a veritable landmine of mud ready to dull my glorious shoe shine. But, knowing that I would be faster and agiler than ever I couldn’t resist. I maintained a cautious stride, ever vigilant and mindful of my feet. At a pause in the game, I looked down to study my lily-white life changers for any dirt or debris. Still perfect. Then, as I looked up two things happened simultaneously. I heard someone yell “Head’s up!” and then I got hit directly in the face with a high-velocity Frisbee. There was an audible cracking noise and my eyes filled with tears from the force of it. For a moment I stood in shocked silence as my body processed the pain. Then, with frighteningly powerful force, blood erupted out of my nose and all over my precious Nikes.

I cried then, a guttural, animalistic sound. And when the coach ran over with a towel and shoved it in my face I shook my head violently and screamed, “MY SHOES!! GET MY SHOES!!” My future, fueled by those shoes, flashed before my eyes and then was gone.

They say time heals all wounds, but this…this still cuts like a knife. I often think of what my life would have been if not for that careless throw.

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