One of the first purchases my parents made in this country, in 1976, was to buy me a pair of red sneakers. I don't remember what brand they were, but they were a deep red color, and I loved them. Before that, as child in the Soviet Union, my shoes were brown or black – I can’t really remember - but definitely nothing like these red sneakers. I vividly remember crying when we had to throw them away, they were in tatters, barely held together by thin, worn red threads. My mom was very kind, holding my hand while we went outside of our apartment building and threw my old red sneakers into the large green trash bin. I felt as if I was throwing away memories, but of course the memories stayed. Only the sneakers left me that day.
I also remember one of the things I did, while wearing that favorite pair of red sneakers, was to go see the original Star Wars. Of course there was the movie, with the special effects no one has ever seen before. I remember that my head felt as if I was still flying after I left our friend's car and opened the back door to our apartment. The stars streaked by me as I hurtled through space, and I was fighting against the evil Empire with the Resistance, falling in love with Harrison Ford and wanting to be like Carrie Fisher.
In no small part I think my red sneakers made me feel like a bad ass, a heroine in her own mind. I never felt ordinary or average while wearing them.
I have never worn another pair of red sneakers afterwards. Not for the lack of trying, but back then, we just couldn’t find a pair of red sneakers in the stores. After a while searching, I just gave up.
Maybe now, with the an Internet full of wonderful, wild colorful shoes, I could find the right pair of red sneakers, but I’m not sure I could ever duplicate the magic of that original pair. Being older, I have lost some of the automatic self-confidence that comes from magical shoes, but I have gained a little bit of adult wisdom. Just like I can’t see Star Wars again for the first time, I can never have my first pair of red shoes. And I am okay with that.