Personal Essay: Rubber Boots of My Childhood

The feeling that touches my heart every time my glance falls on the rubber boots that modestly stand under the bench in my hallway is comparable to the feeling that a bicycle ride brings, or pistachio ice cream on a hot Sunday afternoon. Don’t ask, as I am not aware of where the feeling and comparison come from. All I know, rubber boots, pistachios ice cream and bicycles rides take roots from golden childhood days. Days when as soon as snow would start melting, my feet in rubber boots would show up on the street, measuring the depth of puddles. Pistachio ice cream would always be my number one choice on a hot summer day. Days, when the delight of a whistling wind in my ears was mixed with the fear of speed while I was riding a new shiny bicycle through city streets. Time stood still. While my relationship with pistachio ice cream and biking were positive from the beginning, there was not a chance for me to accept rubber boots into my wardrobe when I had to wear them for the first time. Allow me to start from the beginning, however.

 Every single spring, a certain long street with houses on both sides would start undressing from snow in the most special way. That was my unbeatable opinion, anyway. The brooks would start running from the hilly part of the street, straight to the river that was running behind the houses. The water was flowing, wriggling, even laughing with a silver sound, getting wider and then getting narrower. Little ravines that would form under the brooks were perfect enough for launching paper boats, and while walking beside it, we’d build obstacles on its way.

 When the calendar would hit “March” and the first signs of spring would start appearing, the routine of measuring puddles on the way home from school would become the most important one. Oh, how great it was! As it meant not just fun, and entertainment, but the ability to see how much longer it would take the ground to dry, and how long we still needed to wait until blooming trees, open patios with served pistachio ice cream, and daily biking through the little grove, near the mentioned above the river.

 Before I got into that important mission of measuring puddles that I enjoyed as a child, I had an illogical stubbornness about rubber boots. I was denying any chance of my feet slipping into a rough and ugly pair of “The Wellington Boot” creation. Not a single toe. On the contrary, I had the most amazing and sophisticated looking brown leather ankle boots I wanted to wear everywhere, and all day long. When puddles would start growing and all snow around would start turning into a messy and dirty liquid, I kept begging my mother to let me walk to school, wearing my stylish, elegant and such beautiful brown boots that even had some kind of golden colour decorative detail. I was convincing her that the pair of rubber boots she told me to wear was the most boring pair, and most certainly, I didn’t want any boy or girl from the class to see me wearing the horrifying sage green footwear. My mom, her kind heart, and wisdom, let me wear ankle boots I wanted, as she knew: even the little one should learn from her own mistakes.

 I got home that day, soaking. Water was inside of my boots, my feet were completely wet, and I had to admit my defeat. While mom would look for dry socks to warm up my feet, I was mumbling, trying to justify myself, however, realizing it lost any sense. I was six years old, and knew nothing about fashion, or styling, and couldn’t even entertain the chance that rubber boots can look stylish, and dandy. I was separating the world on black and white, being sure I was correct. Back then in my world, rubber boots were on the side of “ugly ones” and brown leather on the “beauty side”. I didn’t even think about looking from a different angle, giving another chance to the pair that would keep my feet dry and warm. That time I admit my mother was right about rubber boots. I wore them after. My feet stayed dry, I’ve got a new hobby of measuring puddles and trying not to look down at the hostile footwear. I got used to them on my feet. Later on, mom would get me the yellow pair of rubber boots. Perhaps, it was a special tactic to smooth my heart’s wound due to the need to wear something “not as pretty”.

 I laugh about it now. I put on rubber boots and go for my walk under March’s first rain. I dare to look dandy, stylish and elegant in rubber boots. I feel confident. It all happened a long time after I thought that rubber boots made me look bizarre. I simply learned to see the shadows of colours in between black and white and to not strictly separate the idea of anything I see or hear. I had to find out how to give chances and try on new pieces and ideas. If I would know that when I was six, maybe, maybe many times my feet would have stayed dry. On the other hand, as my mother used to say: “Even little ones have to learn from their own mistakes.” I could not beat that philosophy. If my feet would have always stayed dry, would I be writing about this right now, having a warm smile on my face, almost putting on rubber boots, to go outside to measure puddles? You tell me.