This year I took a summer vacation, one of the joys of which was time painting in the studio.
I’ve migrated to three different studios over the years, but a single constant in each was my old pair of nursing clogs, converted to painting shoes.
In their earlier life, they spent ten years traipsing across a PICU, and even flew in a helicopter a time or two while transporting sick children in Oregon to Portland.
When I transitioned from PICU to adult oncology, they retired. In their new-found leisure, they started a second career as my painting shoes, where we continued to do good work together.
Anyway, over the weekend I returned to the studio and painted, changing out of my street shoes into the old, faithful clogs. They felt funny. In fact, one foot was suddenly closer to the floor than the other. I looked down, and entire sections of the right foot clog’s rubber sole had disintegrated and fallen off in chunks. As I moved about, the left foot clog did the same. I stared at them in disbelief. I had not foreseen their imminent demise.
I did not have a second pair of studio shoes to change into, so I continued wearing them while painting, standing and walking, balancing on what remained of the core of their sole. We made one last painting together. I tried remembering the last patient I’d nursed while wearing these clogs, but could not.
When I finished painting for the day, I washed my brushes, and swept up the trail of black, crumbled rubber left behind on the studio floor. Removing the old, familiar clogs, I put on my street shoes, and placed the paint spattered, destroyed clogs into the garbage.
Move on. They’re just an old pair of clogs.
Besides, there’s another pair, retired when I left the infusion clinic for the oncology nurse navigator job, waiting in my closet at home to take their place in the studio.