I wear shoes until they've got holes and are coming apart at the seams. In the summer, I wear teva flipflops every single day. My friend Angela gave me my first pair of these four years ago as a bridesmaid gift the summer she got married. They were black. I wore them for two solid years, until I got holes in the soles. I loved the way they molded to my feet, accommodating my high arches. So I went out and bought a new pair two years ago, green that time.
Two years later, these are getting holes too, and while I still want a new pair, I got the idea a few days ago that what I really want for this summer (and hopefully many summers to come) is a pair of Chacos. I'd never owned a pair, had never even tried a pair on, but I love the feminine look to them, the way my friends will wear them not just with shorts but with dresses. I like how sturdy they are, how you can wear them hiking or river-walking or with a skirt to an Oregon wedding.
I decided that I needed them so badly that I was willing to pay full price to make a pair my own. I, the thrifter of thrifters, the Goodwill Princess, was going to shell out $90+ for a pair of shoes. I stopped my days of hand-wringing over the price when Ted announced yesterday that he'd ordered a home-soda-maker online. If we need that much fizzy water in the house, then I need a pair of Chacos, dadgummit.
Today, I sat down at the computer and typed into google the simple search of "Chacos" plus our zip code. The second search result to appear was a Craigslist ad, so of course I had to look at it.
It was a pair of red Chacos (exactly the color I wanted) in my size. My size! And get this: the posting had only been up for twenty minutes when I found it. I called the number listed in the ad and told her I'd be by in the afternoon.
I put her address into google-maps and discovered that it's in a funky little neighborhood not far from our house. I drove the seven minutes it takes to get there, parked, and rang the doorbell. Then I knocked very lightly. After a few seconds, a very tall blond woman with the cutest haircut this side of the Rockies appeared, telling me that the doorbell was broken but that she'd heard my rustling outside. I explained that I knocked, but very lightly, as I have a toddler and want to choke to death people who knock loudly on my door during naptime. She laughed and showed me the shoes.
They were perfect, all I ever dreamed of. The perfect pair of Chacos, hardly worn and offered to me for half of what she paid for them (she was getting rid of them because they didn't fit her right). I sat down on the couch to try them on as she introduced me to her husband who was in the dining room surrounded by book and notebooks. She explained that they are both graduate students in the midst of finals. I immediately thought fondly of my grad school days seven years ago (oh my god, was I really finishing up graduate school seven years ago?) and feel all reminiscent and wanting to ask a bunch of questions. But I hold back, thinking, "I'm just here for the shoes."
As I fumble around with them (as surely all first-time handlers of Chacos must), I notice the music playing and ask, "Is this that Alison Kraus and Robert Plant album?"
Why yes it is.
"Oh, I got to hear her three years ago at Merlefest."
From the dining room, husband's head pops up, "Isn't that that awesome bluegrass festival in Tennessee?"
"No, it's in North Carolina."
"Oh, yeah, right! I've heard of it."
And then we talked a little about music and the festival as I fumbled with the shoe. Chaco-owner saw my struggle and sat next to me on the couch and suddenly was adjusting them for me, with the shoe on my foot. A total stranger was fiddling with my feet, something I felt uncomfortable about, thinking, crap, I came here wearing Keens...do my feet smell? Isn't she grossed out by my Keen-shod feet?
But no, she just talked about how Chacos make her feet smelly and then told me to take them for a spin outside if I want, which I do. They feel awesome, despite needing further adjustment.
I came back inside, realizing as I was walking outside that I'd left my purse with my wallet and phone in the condo of Craigslist strangers, and we somehow ended up talking about our families, about being married to older men, about hikes on Catalina Island and our thoughts on what the white horse means in Twin Peaks mythology. Okay, not the last one, but I think we could have gotten there had we had enough time.
I bought the sandals and felt like hugging the Craigslist Chaco-seller before I left after inviting them to Abe's birthday party next weekend. Instead, I just wished them luck on their finals, and they wished me luck with the toddler, and I drove off happy with Chacos and imagining life with my new best friend in Portland, the sandal-seller from Craigslist.
Lest you allow this tale to prove to you that all wheelers and dealers on Craigslist are total nutjobs who immediately imagine long friendships with the other nutjobs they meet there, let's fast forward a couple of hours. This evening, I got an email from my Chaco-friend saying, "It was interesting meeting you today. It seems like we have many things in common. Same shoe size, older husbands, same age, similar taste in music. And we learned all that in the five minutes that we spent together."
See? I'm not completely crazy. I'll email her back and I bet she's going to tell me she and her husband are just starting an adoption and how irritating it is when people ask if they ever want to have "their own" kids. And then we'll laugh and laugh and open up a bottle of reisling and Ted and her newly graduated husband will start up a theater company in Central Oregon, and before we know it, all my best blogger buddies will move out to join us, and I'll publish my first book, a memoir about life on our commune, which will make us all rich, so rich that we build enough wells in Eastern Africa to change millions and millions of lives.
And we'll all be able to say that it started with a pair of Chacos on Craigslist. Just you wait.