I have a pair of gold sandals.

These sandals are the literal opposite of special.

They are Target brand flat sandals with fraying threads at almost every seam. They are Target brand sandals that I bought at a thrift store – in 2009. Back then, I committed the cardinal sin of working at a thrift store when I bought these sandals after pricing before we even put them out on the floor. They are size 9½, a ½ size too small, but I bought them anyway because I thought that maybe they’d be a good pair of basic sandal for me to use (I was right). And they only cost a couple of bucks.

I think I tucked them away for awhile, leaving them in storage while I backpacked through Asia. I don’t remember. They may have gone with me. But I truly discovered them again while I prepared to work camp for a summer in Philly. Then they traveled across the USA to Seattle, walked around there for a few years and then found their way back to Georgia. They’ve traveled to the beach for family vacations and been used in sketchy showers while traveling. They moved with me to Zambia. Most recently they ventured to Cape Town with me. Currently they’re busy walking through the compounds of Ndola. Those are a lot of miles for a pair of Target brand sandals bought on the cheap at a thrift store.

Soon, I am going to have to retire these sandals. After all of these years, they have begun to stretch and bend in ways that no longer fit my feet. I stumble in them more than I used to. Last week, I managed to slip in them and kick a rock in the road, splitting open my big toe and causing me to get a bit woozy (I get weak at the thought of pain).

I’m a hoarder by nature, so naturally, even with all of their dangers, I do not want to part with these sandals. But I also don’t want to part with them because they are an analogy.

They are nothing special sandals that have changed and adapted until they eventually mastered and then outgrew their purpose. They fascinate me.

Think about it. All those years in a dark storage bin, or being tossed from one suitcase to another, never really settled. Until eventually they’d been to all these places and done all these things and worked and played equally hard until eventually they looked back to see they were now ill-fitted and exhausted.

I’m not exactly sure what they represent (I’m not ill-fitted!), but I am currently finding myself with a restlessness that identifies with their frayed edges.

They are real, and they are an analogy.