The first pair of Doc Martens I ever had were green crushed velvet 9-holes. They were the flashiest pair of shoes I’d ever owned. I don’t remember where we bought them — I wish I did — but I remember begging my mom to buy them. I remember that they were on the expensive side and that my mom insisted I would never wear them. I insisted back that I *would* wear them and they were anything and everything I ever wanted in the world. Of course.
The Docs represented everything effortless and cool about the people I wanted to be like. I don’t remember who I thought that was at the time, but the feeling I recall acutely: I was always on the edge, so close to what I perceived as “it,” coolness, but relegated to the outskirts for some reason I could never discern. Likely, the reason was that I cared so damn much. When I was surrounded by people I didn’t want to impress, I relaxed, had fun, liked people and was liked in return. I should’ve taken that as a cue, but alas, I kept banging my head against that wall of popularity for all too many years. I’d have moments in the golden sun — like when Buzz, a senior, told our group of guy friends that I “looked hot” the night of the spring fling. I was wearing 100% [the same outfit that Jennifer Love Hewitt wears at the end of Can’t Hardly Wait, I stole the t-shirt from Wet Seal (which might have still been called Contempo Casuals) in the mall.
But the Docs pre-dated *Can’t Hardly Wait*.
These shoes represented so much to me, but my mom was right — I never wore them. They were a step I wasn’t ready to take, a person I couldn’t yet be. Plus, I think I had talked my mom into buying whatever was available which was a half-size too small. The coveted boots sat in the corner of my closet for years, gathered dust, and my mom never said a thing (because she’s a saint). I don’t remember when I got rid of them, but I’m sure they’re gone now. I haven’t thought of them in years, but when I bought a pair of black Docs the other day (steel toe, used, vintage, made in England), the memory of those crushed velvet Docs, my first, came rushing back. I’m sorry I didn’t do right by them, and I hope whoever’s wearing them now has loved them thoroughly.
Now that I’ve learned to love myself and my place in the world, I deserve a pair of my own, right? A pair I’ll actually wear? Right. Well, thanks for reading, I’m off to stomp the world with my protected toes. Growing up is weird.