A while ago I was at my parents’ house clearing out some stuff I’d left at their place. I found a pair of shoes I’d forgotten I owned. The last time I wore these shoes was in 2000, during one of several seasons I spent working as a mountain bike guide in the Mediterranean.
As I took them out of the cupboard and inspected them for wearability, a stream of fine sand poured out of one of the shoes and onto the floor. It was sand from Finikounda, the beautiful Greek village which was my home for two magnificent summers a few years ago. As I looked at the sand, memories came flooding back. The people I met, the thousand of miles I rode, the days and evenings spent on the sandy beach. Amazing summers I’ll never forget.
I brought the shoes home, with some more clothes and books that I’d retrieved from my parents’ cupboards. And I started wearing them again.
In their second life, these shoes from my past have become part of my present, as I wear them for my seafront ride to work each morning. They used to spend their days sitting on a toolbox in a dusty bike shed in rural Greece. Now they spend office hours drying on the heated towel rail by the shower in our office.
Brighton’s harsh winter weather has removed any trace of Finikounda. Mediterranean sand has been replaced with the salt of the English Channel.
Like a song from your past that you listen to too much, these shoes have now lost their association with Greek summers. They are now the shoes of the British winter.
I have more than shoes from that particular year in Greece. Some of friends I made that summer are now among my closest, six years later.
I’ve still got sand in my shoes
And I can’t shake the thought of you
I should get on, forget you
But why would I want to
I know we said goodbye
Anything else would’ve been confused but
I wanna see you again
(I know Dido really isn’t considered to be cool these days, but that doesn’t stop this song making me smile when I hear it…)