Back in the 80's when I was growing up in Pisin' Mo'o, there weren't a lot of people in my village who had a vehicle. If you did have a car or truck, town was still almost two hours away, so it was a pretty big deal if you decided to make the trip. In my family, if my mom decided to go to town, she would only take one or two of us kids. There were five kids in my family, plus my Mom, my Grandma and depending on which year of my life, either my father or in the later years, my Mom's boyfriend. Being the youngest, I didn't often get to go.
Sometimes a lot of us would go, but we'd have to sit in the bed of the truck. It was an extremely uncomfortable two hour ride home, the wind whipping your face into your hair, no matter what you did. Often it was freezing cold and you would sometimes worry about things flying out onto the road as you sped down the highway.
If you went to town, you'd have to remember to hit every store you could. The hardware store, pep boys, K-mart, the grocery store, the gas station, you'd have to eat while you were there, and you'd have to bring something home for the kids waiting at home. It was an enormous expense, so "going to town" wasn't just a fun thing. There was a lot of sitting in parking lots, guarding the purchases, waiting as my Mom and Grandma shopped for hours.
Instead of going to town for clothes, we got most of our clothes from rummage sales put on by the nuns who lived in our village. Donated clothes would arrive in the village in big trucks. They would heap piles of clothes onto sheets on the basketball courts at the old catholic school. People from the village and even from surrounding villages would come to sift through the piles all day long.
Me, my brother and my cousins would play on the old jungle gym and every once in a while see if we could find something interesting in the piles. We didn't know anything about picking clothes, so usually we just ran around playing. My mom would be bent over, looking, searching for something only she could describe with hurried determination. Trouble was, my Mom didn't know anyone's sizes. She'd hold up shirts and skirts and levi jeans, eyeing them, stretching them to see if they were going to fit anyone in our family. There were no dressing rooms, you could sometimes try something on over your clothes, but it was all guesswork. At .25 cents a pop, you could afford to guess. My Mom always insisted that it would fit "someone".
I remember standing there as my cousins looked on, in the middle of the basketball court as my mom made me try things on, over the clothes I was already wearing. This was "too big", this "too small", the sleeves on this hang shirt hang down past my waist. Mom promised to sew everything. "Eeee! I can sew it."
We bit our tongues, failing to remind our mother that the clothes she bought at the last rummage sale were still in a pile, waiting to be hemmed or sewn or to have buttons replaced. We failed to remind her that she was an awful seamstress. None of her buttons or hems ever stayed, and god forbid she cut something. She couldn't cut in a straight line to save her life. But you didn't mess with Mom when she was in 'Rummage Sale Mode'.
That's how I got my white ProWings. They were two sizes too small, already dirty with someone else's adventures. My toes were crammed in from the start. I tried to tell Mom but she told me I could, "stretch them out." I was disappointed that the shoe laces were already frayed and knotted. My Mom promised me new laces.
We paid the .25 cents and I began doing my best to "stretch them out". I wore my brother's tube socks and bent them from side to side. Eventually, I guess they must have stretched out, but rather than stretch to be longer, they stretched to be wider. We never bought new laces, so I never tied them. I just slipped them on and off.
My brothers used to call them my "lowriders" because they said the sides were almost touching the ground. Whenever I passed they'd start singing the song "Lowrider" by WAR, until I would scream for them to shut up and run outside.
I felt like I wore them for years.
I wore them until they were grey and gnarled.
I wore them until they started talking with every step I took.
I wore them until the next rummage sale came to Pisin' Mo'o and my Mom found me a pair brown and green hiking shoes. They were only one size too big, and almost new but they were too narrow for my big, wide, brown feet.
This time they cost .50 cents.
"Eee, you can just stretch them out!"
Written as part of the 31-Day, Women's Writing Challeng On the Warpath Women
Today's writing challenge (submitted on O'odham time) was to write about your favorite pair of shoes.