I love flip flops. Actually, that’s not true. I love my flip flops.
And I love them because they are mine. I wear them exclusively when I am travelling and as such they are a link to everywhere I’ve been and everything I’ve seen.
There’s an emotional attachment there that can only exist between, and be understood by, a man and his flip flops.
Look at them, all indented at the back where my heel has pressed against them a million times. Look at the front where each toe has left its own dark little signature.
And look at my feet. Are they heavily tanned? Or just filthy dirty? It’s another facet which adds to their majesty and it doesn’t matter because they are my badge of honour. Oh, the things they’ve seen, the places they’ve been…
I look up from the floor – as is the convention when walking – and snap out of the inner monologue of infatuation going on between me and my footwear.
I watch as the turban-wearing, electric guitar playing, roller-skating man cleverly weaves in and out of the people of Los Angeles’s Venice beach and I wonder if there is a better demonstration of multi-tasking anywhere in the world.
Then, I am back to marvelling at my flip flops and I wonder if they remember our first adventure together in Mexico, before reminding myself that most inanimate objects are incapable of such a thing.
But I could hardly have expected we’d spend so many wonderful moments together, experience so much, and yet here we are, over a year and 12 countries later and – OW! What was that?
I feel something sharp against my heel. I angle my leg up so I can see what the culprit is. A small stone falls from the sole of my foot to reveal… skin. I can see skin even though my flip flip is still dangling from my foot.
It is then that I notice the rest of my flip flops are suffering from the same ailment that has befallen the heel of ‘righty’. I guess it’s true what they say, love really is blind. How could I not have seen this coming, how can I have failed to notice such… such thinning.
Quickly, I revert to a state of denial. It’ll be fiiiiiiiiiiine, I think. They’ve got some mileage left in them yet. I can’t discard them just because I can feel the concrete underfoot along with every little lump and bump, can I?
I owe them more than that. They were there when I taught my first English lesson; when I rode my first elephant; when I drank my first Singapore Sling in Raffles; and when I made my first bet in Las Vegas. We’ve done too much together to give up now.
I take a seat on the beach to examine the damage more closely. The evidence is damning and I realise I have to face facts. Our time together is set to come to an end.
I reluctantly amble into a nearby beach front store and look at the array of flip flops on offer. Row upon row of soulless, lifeless, flip flops. I feel a connection to none of them; there’s no electricity, no chemistry between us. How can I make this relationship work, when there’s no chemistry?!
With zero enthusiasm, I decide upon a pair, take them to the checkout and the young girl begins to put them in a bag for me.
“Actually, don’t worry about the bag. I’ll wear them.”
I make the exchange between old and new. I instantly feel uneasy. Oh, the betrayal.
“Would you like me to take the others for you?”
I look at the young girl, then at my weathered, worn, dying flip flops, and then back at the girl.
“Sure”, I say.
I place them slowly, carefully and deliberately on the counter. With a heavy heart, I take one step forward, look back and then walk away.
A new adventure is about to begin.
Does this resonate with anyone else? I don’t mind if it doesn’t but I would be very interested to know if I’m the only one… Do let me know in the comments section.