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New Shoes

by Elizabeth Kent Gaines

It's funny how we outgrow things. When we're children, the time of growth can be exciting. How many of us can't remember our parents taking us to the shoe store to buy a brand-new pair of tennis shoes because we outgrew the old pair? Exciting. I remember when I was finally big enough to have my very own bicycle. It was pink, and it was an exciting time. When I outgrew my beloved, first bicycle, there was a brand-new, blue 10-speed to take its place.

When we're young, we're constantly outgrowing one thing or another, but there is always something else there to grow in to; it's a very pleasurable experience. Take teeth, for example. I haven't yet met a seven-year-old who isn't excited by the prospect of losing that first baby tooth. Just knowing that by placing that little tooth under a pillow, by morning a quarter will have magically appeared in its place via the Tooth Fairy, and that in a little while an honest-to-goodness "grown-up" tooth will grow into the gap in that smile... what's there not to be excited about?

It's usually not until we're adults that we understand growth for the bittersweet experience it is truly. I can still remember coming to the realization that I was "too old" to play with dolls. It may seem simple and puerile, but sometimes, just seeing that beautiful baby doll on the shelf of the toy store, and wanting it so longingly, and knowing there is no one to buy it for... I can't count the times I've had to hold back the tears. And shoes. As an adult, the only real excuse for buying a new pair of shoes is because I have "walked out" of the old pair; and, it never is as easy, nor as fun, to find a new pair I *really* like as when I was a kid.

Most disconcerting of all, is coming to the realization we can outgrow *people*. Those friends who were once a comfort and a support one day can suddenly become tight and confining the next; just like a pair of shoes a child has outgrown. I woke up one morning, not too long ago, and began to slip on my favorite pair of shoes. Either the shoes had shrunk, or my feet had grown over night, but, either way, they no longer fit. They pinched and hurt me terribly... the need to take them off was painfully obvious. But, I loved these shoes dearly, and this time, there was no new pair to step into. So, I decided I would just have to go barefoot for awhile...

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