||TANYA ENBERG, Chic Savvy Travels
There sit the turtle shoes, perched on a small bench in my kitchen. They are a reminder of New York … New York! They are well traveled and at least two sizes too small.
Each time I move to a new house, the turtle shoes wait, alongside mountains of boxes and random packing materials, for their fate to be determined.
Each time I move to a new house, the question always is this: Will they join me in my new abode?
They don’t actually fit my feet — in fact at size 7, they’re a whole two sizes two small — and they’re a bit on the scruffy side to boot.
I call them my turtle shoes because they have a picture of an animated turtle on the outside of each (once I remember where my cameras are packed, I’ll post a photo of them).
They are bowling shoe style, two-toned, and they make me happy.
Of course, I can’t wear them and never should have been squishing my feet into them in the first place. Whether I believed I was a size 7 when I bought them, or was trying to will my clodhoppers into a smaller size, I haven’t a clue.
But, I do recall this: When I spotted them for sale in a New York City vintage shop, I knew they would be mine.
There is a photograph somewhere, taken by my then boyfriend, of me tying up the laces of my new finds. I was 22 and hungry for creativity and travel. The shoes symbolized an incredibly cool time, when freedom was so within reach it felt tactile.
It’s the thrill that comes from knowing you can just hop in a car and hit the road anytime you like. Sweet and carefree.
Before driving to New York, I’d already been to some amazing places, but with its volatile personality, frenetic energy, impatient New-York-minute crowds and art history spanning from the bat-shit crazy to Guggenheim elite, the Big Apple held special appeal.
I’d long fantasized about staying at the Chelsea Hotel (it’s currently closed for renovations), a notorious landmark that served as the living quarters and artistic brewing grounds for many famed — and pained — artists, writers and musicians, among them Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin, Patti Smith and Iggy Pop.
Leonard Cohen sang of it and the late Sid Vicious of the Sex Pistols allegedly stabbed his girlfriend Nancy Spungen there, where she ultimately bled to death.
Meanwhile, Dylan Thomas was staying at the Chelsea in 1953 when he was rushed to the hospital and died shortly after. His death was the aftermath of brain damage caused by excessive alcohol and pneumonia.
After booking a room, instead of feeling the artistic ghosts I’d naïvely expected, we were greeted with a hefty hotel fee, a depressingly cramped room outfitted with ratty linens, beat-up furniture that could have been salvaged from the street, and a tiny window offering no light or view.
It was gloomy and, in retrospect, could help explain the tragedies that took place there.
But, back to the turtles — the shoes that keep getting dustier with time. While I can go years without seeing them, they eventually re-appear and I always feel nostalgic about them.
It’s as though the turtle shoes walk me back in time to photographing a Black Panther rally that we stumbled across and into a cave-like bar where De La Soul’s Maseo was spinning.
They travel to stacked deli sandwiches with zesty mustard spread, security bars drawn on shops at closing time, and graffiti spanning the gamut of sloppy to professional.
Fill up with enormous deli sandwiches in NYC. Photo courtesy of Katz's Delicatessen
And I distinctly recall the feeling of driving there with the tunes playing, the windows down and the air flying my hair all about as my excitement grew.
Soon I’d be stepping in the footsteps of Jean-Michel Basquiat and Andy Warhol and everything would be factory-girl cool.
There was seeing the Chrysler Building for the first time, the Empire State Building, getting hit with the florescent visual onslaught of Times Square and, at the time, the Twin Towers of the World Trade Centre.
I breathed in deeply that congested, bumper-to-bumper air like it was pure creative juice sliced from the core, and used my beloved Canon A1 to snap away black-and-white photographs.
And those shoes were with me every step of the way. Presumably, they were uncomfortable, but still, I loved them.
It’s been years since they’ve been worn or seen any place other than a storage box, and they’ve come to represent a struggle between logic (that of finally abandoning them to the donation box) and heart (oh, dear shoes, so full of youthful promise and idealism … memories created with every footstep!).
Should they stay or should they go now? I really can’t say.
But I won’t come to such a decision quickly, as I know what it’s like to haphazardly toss things out and regret doing so later. This time, I‘ll move slowly. Kind of like a turtle.
Date Added: April 2, 2012 | Comments (0)
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