When you have a puppy, taking the dog out can be exhausting. I knew this before we decided to get Mika, I’ve done the puppy thing a few times in my life and have always had dogs in my family for as long as I can remember. Having a dog and being a sneakerhead can be complicated. It’s worth the potential sacrifice of a few pairs in my opinion, for the joy that a dog brings to your life. That doesn’t mean I would ever willingly immolate any of the shoes I’ve amassed, no matter how many pairs I have. Thankfully, Mika is more of a sock girl than a sneaker girl. She’s never chewed on a pair of shoes, sans a couple of times, she decided the laces looked better untied than tied and pulled them apart. Socks however are a different story. This pup likes socks the way I like burritos…there’s no such thing as a wrong place or time for indulging. But this isn’t a story about sacrificing shoes on behalf of your four-legged companions, this about something different.
Yesterday, I finally got around to dealing with a pile of shoes that had grown like mold at my front door. With Covid spiking all over California, I really only go outside when the pup needs to, or when we go to the grocery store. Yet, somehow over the past couple of months, I managed to have about a dozen pairs sitting in the entryway of our condo. Only a couple of pairs are what I would refer to as beaters, in that I know they are long past saving. It’s not that having a pile of shoes at the door disqualifies me as a sneakerhead, but rather what I did next that has me questioning my commitment to the life that chose me.
I piled all of the shoes sitting at the door and tucked away into the entry closet into a giant plastic garbage bag, two of them actually. All these dirty shoes, some with a healthy dose of mud, some that have definitely been the only thing separating my socks from the 💩 found around the neighborhood, tossed into bags without being cleaned up. I’m not talking about average run-of-the-mill sneakers. I had a pair of Griffey Max from 2010, a pair of Saucony Shadows from 2000, Zoom Talarias from a few years ago, 3D printed adidas AlphaEdge 4D which I really love, and a handful of other shoes that I would have never mitigated to just a bag full of dirty shoes in the past. Even when I donate shoes each year, I usually clean them up a decent amount before dropping them off. Who have I even become?
I’ve become okay with being me and not trying to live up to the unrealistic standards that social media may lead us to believe are important. About three years ago, I decided to post more than just sneakers on my Instagram because I’m into a lot of different things, despite what might be the assumption if you Google me. Since then, I’ve lost about 4,000 followers (I wasn’t paying attention close enough to look at exact numbers but I remember at one point being a few shy of 19,000 on IG) after sharing more of my passion for cars, collectibles, books, food, and my dog. You know, all the things that are a part of our lives. For me, I get more out of writing this and hearing your feedback than I ever would out of likes or comments on an Instagram photo.
That said, for me, sneakers take up a huge part of my life because it’s the business I’ve worked in since 2007 or so, not by any means because it’s the only thing that matters to me. On the contrary, people are what matter to me. I couldn’t tell you what shoes my friends wore the last time I saw them, and I’m totally good with not knowing. If our conversation goes that way, so be it, but it’s never been about the shoes for me, it’s always about the people wearing them.
Full transparency, I’m not one to clean my sneakers religiously. It’s always easier to find a cleaner pair when you are constantly trying to wear different pairs anyway. Though I do try to take care of them, it’s just not in my nature to slow down for something like that. Don’t get me wrong, the feeling of wearing a pair that is nice and crispy clean or fresh out of the box for the first time still gets me feeling like I did when I got a “real” pair of shoes after working a handful of summer jobs and saving up to buy the Nike Air Gone and Air Lambaste nearly 30 years ago (with the matching black socks, might I add.) It’s just that cleaning every pair becomes tedious, and this year I am trying to upload 5-7 videos a week to YouTube, write 2-3 newsletters each week, and connect with more people that share this crazy passion for sneakers that I have.
My point is, as I said in one of my YouTube videos a few weeks back, the number of sneakers you buy, the number of sneakers you own, the value of the sneakers on your feet, or how much time you spend obsessing over them, cleaning them, or any other thing, doesn’t mean a thing. It’s for you to decide what you do with your sneakers and with your time, and if you have a passion for sneakers and want to talk to other people about them, do it. Don’t worry about the people that want to claim you are or are not a sneakerhead or the people that claim to be or not to be a sneakerhead, all of that energy is lost, and giving into the argument doesn’t do you any good.
So when it’s safe to do so and my sneakers aren’t as clean as they could be when we meet in person, don’t take that as a sign of not caring. It’s actually a sign that I care about you and getting to know you over the priority of cleaning my shoes.
(I feel like this Substack is quickly becoming my therapist, so thank you to all of you that take the time to read it.)