For some time now I had been uploading on facebook, images of the rubber sports shoes I buy here in Japan. I appreciate it a lot when people comment and react on the type and style of shoes I choose. Some of them have shown keen interest on my collection. So much so, that they ask how much I pay for the shoes. Honestly, some of the shoes I chose come with a heavy price tag even though I buy them discounted or during “sale” time. However, let me tell you candidly too, that for each pair of shoes I buy, i remind myself of a fond set of memories.
The Jordan series
I remember when I was 13, sometime 1990’s. After almost nine years of service in the oil industry, my dad came home from Saudi because it was becoming dangerous due to Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait. After a few months, my family living on a strict budget by that time, went to Bacolod one day, to buy me a new pair of rubber shoes.
And so we went to one of those department stores, and I eventually ended up falling in love with the Air Jordans on display. And even at 32, I can still sense how much I wanted those shoes. How much my eyes glistened at the very idea of wearing the Air Jordan.
When I asked Papa if we can afford it, he was sad to tell me that we cant. I wanted to cry back then but instead chose to “man up”, make a decent enough face in front of Papa, and opted for a Lotto rubber shoes which fit our budget. Not that Lotto was not good, in fact the shoes served me well. It was just that, as a kid who only had but a handful of desires, it pained me so much when i cant get something I truly wanted.
I never told anybody, until now, how much that incident affected me. From that day forward, I swore to myself I will never ever buy NIKE rubber shoes. It is not that I hated the brand. But I guess I just ended up with the conclusion, that those shoes were far beyond my reach. That I may never afford them.
That incident stirred up something deep in me. Subconsciously, i decided that it is better for me not to get the best NIKE I can find. For some insane reason, the idea of me not “affording” them keeps me plodding on with what I intend to achieve. In part, I guess it is a reminder for me, that there are things in life, better not having, temporarily or otherwise.
“13” fast forward “31”
I celebrated my 31st birthday here in Kyoto, Japan. There was really nothing special to it. If memory serves me right, we just ate dinner at one of the better ramen houses here in kyoto. A ramen meal composed of :
1. Karage Teishoku (4 pieces of fried chicken with rice and cabbage)
2. Chashu hosomen (ramen with thin noodles (“hoso-men”), and chashu (pork) cutlets)
3. Negi tappuri (a lot of “negi” or welsh onion)
4. Ajitsuke tamago (a boiled egg topping)
When the meal was over, we all went home unceremoniously. As I went into my apartment, I was surprised to see a big paper bag on top of my bed. It had a whiteboard sign saying “SURPRISE!! Happy B-day! Enjoy your day -Stabs & Mike”. When I opened the bag, I was awestruck to see a pair of NIKE air direct II running shoes. They were my first ever pair of nike rubber shoes.
I dont know if Mike and Alwyn had any idea what “NIKE” meant to me. But needless to say, they have reminded me of a very wonderful moment in my life. Albeit, a poignant one. And though it has been over a year now since I received their gift, I still keep the whiteboard message from that very special day.
Going Back To “Shoes”
I used the shoes Alwyn and Mike gave me extensively. I used it for running, trekking and walking here in Kyoto. It offered a comfortable snug fit, and was as durable as hell. Recently though, it has shown signs of wear and tear. And because of this, I have opted to retire it. In its stead, as a reminder of alwyn and mike, I also bought a pair of running shoes from Nike. The one I recently posted on facebook. Not too expensive, but looks good and feels good on the feet.
Now dont get me wrong. I am not a sales person for nike. In fact, if I remove the sentimental value of the Nike Air Direct II from alwyn and mike, my favorite shoe of all time would be the Rebook Pump Triple Break. Nothing can beat the triple break when it came to comfort, snugness, and overall toughness. My second favorite is the Gigaride A3 of adidas because it looked good, felt good on the soles and more importantly, poses a challenge to the Shox technology of Nike. Though I gave my Gigaride to my brother-in-law, I bought myself a newer version, known as the Bounce series. And finally, I would give the third spot for Nike’s Air Direct II for its overall performance, comfort, durability and value.
Its never about the shoes
My good friend Alwyn always says “We are what we are deprived of.” So literally I am a shoe. Just kidding. But it does make some sense. I had been deprived of some things in my life, which explains probably the hunger in me. Not that I want to eat a shoe or anything. It is just that a part of me, like everyone, desires a “good life” represented in this blog by a pair of Nike Air Jordans, to a 13-year old boy. I guess, I continued feeding the hunger, by depriving myself of a pair of nike shoes. A constant reminder that I am not yet there, that I cannot afford it yet.
To some it may sound hypocritical considering that I have other pairs of shoes that can match the price tag of the latest models from Nike. But for me, in a very weird and insane way, I feel that for now, I would be better off without buying the latest Nike models. Dont get me wrong though, I am still fascinated by some designs from Nike. So much so that I bought my mom a pair of NIKE shox as a combined present for her birthday and for christmas.
The way I see it, in a very simple way, “not having a pair of wonderful Nike’s” keeps me ticking personally. It is a reminder for me that the job is not done yet, that I have not reached whatever goals I have set before me. In my gut, I can sense it, I am all but half-baked.
Someday, when I feel that my job is done, and that I can rest a little, I will buy my pair of Air Jordans. The very same model I wanted way back in 1990. I will have to save for it though because most probably, it will be a collector’s item. It will become one of the many reminders for me, that in spite of and despite of, I got the job done. I made it through.
In my head, the mental image is that of a son asking a father for a pair of shoes, and the father having to say “NO” due to circumstance. But this time around, the son replies “No pops, I think we can afford it now.” And as far as my context is concerned, “afford” doesnt necessarily mean having a ton of money, but more in the light of a “rightful reward” for finishing a hard-arduous-wonderful-happy journey.
But as for the moment, come my 33rd birthday, I will have to commemorate it by buying a pair of Lotto shoes in Manila or Bacolod. Preferably, together with my father.
How about you? What are the inanimate things in life that help you remind yourself to strive for better things?