About six years ago, my good friend gifted me a fantastic pair of boots. Solid in dark brown leather, they zipped up to my ankles, keeping my feet dry in the wettest time of year on Kauai and warm during my annual winter trip to California. These were Doc Martens, the brand of the long-standing European shoe manufacturer known for a signature look and their substantial footwear.
The thing that was unique about these boots was that they didn’t look like Doc Martens. The round toe and high, thick rubber sole so commonly associated with their style had been replaced by a streamlined shoe that looked more like a moccasin than industrial footwear. Where typical Docs could easily handle the weight of a 200 pound man all day in the warehouse, this version looked more like they were ready to go skipping through Sherwood Forest with a quiver of arrows. Still solid in their design, they just looked softer. They were perfect, except for the fact that they were ankle boots.
Really, they’re an ideal height for tropical living and the few weeks a year that this climate supports them being worn at all. But it’s the knee-high version (which I discovered did exist) that would be ideal for riding side-saddle through ancient trees or scaling mountain paths in search of the Holy Grail (or at least some good writing material).
There’s just something about a pair of boots that go all way up to your knees. You’re covered, snug, secure. Footsteps feel even more grounded. You’re wearing boots. Now anything is possible on this path.
The last time I had a pair of knee highs was when I was seven years old. They were in style then (just as they have reappeared in fashion as of late) and I loved them so much I would tuck my jeans inside so as to showcase them in all their vinyl glory. I still can recall coming out of Yamaha piano lessons with my mom. It was night and we were walking back to the car in the parking lot and I was wearing boots. In that moment, I felt like anything was possible – I felt strong – my feet were solid on the ground. I felt my little seven-year old self touch some kind of power that was beyond seven years. Of course it wasn’t sourced in my Payless Shoe Store boots. But they were reminding me with every step about something within. Something that I was just in the early stages of sensing.
Since I was gifted those ankle boots six years ago, together, we have seen some miles. We’ve danced on sticky bar room floors, climbed to mountain vistas and walked city streets. I know I’ve fallen in love at least twice in those things. Recently the sole began to give way and separate from the leather. I’ve thought about the old-school shoe repair guy in Lihue where I could find out if they could be fixed. But I’ve never let go of the idea of the knee-high version. Thirty years after that parking lot moment in my boots, isn’t it time I got a new pair?
It was about six months ago that I decided to make my investment. Fueled by this vision of myself wandering through Europe, I could vividly see my steps meandering in these boots. I thought that if I bought the boots, the vision would be fueled. Step one (pardon the pun) towards bringing my fantasy into the physical. I thought it would be simple to go online and buy them but the search was futile. Over the course of a few weeks, I would periodically resume my search, finding many stores that offered them but not in my size.
Even the Doc Marten company did not have the boot available. The only place I could find the style and size was at their European location, which meant a huge cost in shipping that I just couldn’t bear to pay. It seemed my knee-high boot dream would remain an elusive symbol, the time not yet right to set foot on my travel path. I resolved that if those boots ever did materialize, it would be a harbinger of coming one remote step closer to packing my bags and stepping on a plane.
I hadn’t thought about the boots in a while. It was late afternoon on Easter Sunday and Jeb and I were digesting our meal, spending a little mellow time at home. As I checked my emails an advertisement for boots came on the sidebar (they know their target audience, to be sure). Just for fun, I checked again, fully expecting they would only have the typical odd sizes not fitted to my feet. I found myself on Doc Marten’s website and within seconds there were the boots in UK5, Euro38, US7. Those were my boots (and they came with free shipping).
Ignoring all reason that these were not a seasonably wise purchase for my current locale (especially with summer coming on) I persevered and input my shipping information – these boots were 30 years in coming! I could see us disembarking from the plane onto foreign soil as I typed. All points had brought us to this moment and within two days, Doc Marten said they would be shipped right to my doorstep. I’d figure out my archery practice later, this was the simple beginning…
With the ‘purchase’ button clicked and the confirmation email in my inbox, the rest is up to fate. There is still the possibility they may not be all I’ve hoped for. There’s that chance they just won’t fit. Either way, most likely, you dear reader, will hear all about it. Until then, my boots and I are walking through rocky seaside villages and pausing to lean against thick-barked tree trunks. If only in my mind.