We’re time traveling today, y’all!
One of the most popular posts on the old alohilana blog was ‘the flip flop post’, so today, we’re digging into the vault.
Originally posted in 2008 – she’s been updated, but she’s classic ME, so it’s her time to shine.
And yes, I still hang onto flip flops.
Some people have memories tucked away in letters, tied together with old ribbons and layered with dried rose petals and whispers of times past. Some people have photo albums full of glossy prints of happy times shared with loved ones.
I have a beat-up old pair of flip-flops.
YEARS old, slightly too big, and an indeterminable shade of navy blue-ish, they were purchased for a whopping $2.50 at an Old Navy that may or may not even exist anymore.
I’m not gonna lie – I can be a shoe snob. I’m not the one you’ll normally find in foam-and-plastic flip flops, but for that price, I can totally be swayed.
Mama can also be a cheapskate, as it turns out.
At some point, these guys flip-flopped into my heart and became a staple wardrobe item. Don’t judge me, y’all. I rock the ‘flops. These in particular should probably hold a title, or at least get honorable mention.
They lived a full and vibrant life in Texas – college classes, road trips, catching up with friends… Turns out, all of that can be done in flip-flops that perfectly compliment the color of denim.
Then they were thrown into a box, on their way to Florida. At this point, I’m pretty sure the ‘Old Navy’ stamp had become ‘L Na y’. I probably wouldn’t be wearing them, but who’s gonna turn down a perfectly good pair of throwing-out-the-trash shoes?
NOT THIS GAL.
Those ‘flops were a familiar habit, and even though the friends were new and the places unknown, they carried me like the piece of home that they were. Forget the overflowing box of sandals in every color and style one person could possibly need – more often than not, I was slipping my toes into those worn-out flip-flops.
Something curious happens when you’re faced with forging a completely new path; you find yourself clinging to the strangest pieces of your past. In my case, I was bounding forward into my new path in my old flip-flops. And I was over the moon, y’all. Wide-eyed and innocent, I moved across the country for full-time ministry and it was everything I’d been dreaming of dedicating my life to – larger-than-life and full of promise and vision.
Those ‘flops carried me through many sleepless nights of working hard, in ministry and with such purpose that the job never felt like work. Through nights strolling the beach, and impromptu volleyball games, and hours, days, and weeks spent with new faces and friends. And into a little church building the day my heart shattered into a million pieces as I faced the truth that the ministry I lived and breathed and loved with every fiber of my being was one that I would be leaving behind.
Once bouncing up and down with joy, now every step a weighted, painful decision.
It was time to move on and downsize. By now, the ‘flops were worn smooth. My box of cute sandals overflowed with all the colors of the rainbow, beckoning me to make the only feminine decision.
You know. CHOOSE THEM ALL.
Instead of doing that, I packed the box into a storage unit and slipped into my worn and definitely worse-for-the-wear flip-flops.
Because obviously I might just need them in the winter in Ohio.
At that point in my life, all I could see was the heartbreak of letting go of a dream. All I knew was the literal next step. I was packing my life and my dreams into boxes and hitting the road. No itemized action plan, no five-year plan. Not even an inkling about what would happen the next week. I couldn’t know that I would experience growth and that my life would be enriched by the events that transpired, even though I would have given anything to have those events transpire differently.
I took that next step in well-worn flip-flops. Well-worn might be the kindest way to describe them at this point. There was the tiny hole in the sole where a stick poked through it at the beach. The uneven edge on the right ‘flop caused by an incident with a parking lot curb, because GRACE AIN’T MY MIDDLE NAME, y’all. A ding in the left ‘flop from dropping a metal box on it at Boot Camp. Feetsie (that’s an actual anatomical term, just ask any toddler parent) shapes imprinted into them that weren’t exactly fit to my foot because so many friends had slipped into them for a quick jaunt to the pool, or to the store, or out the door.
Which was not as gross to me then as it is now, because EW GERMS.
Those flip-flops lived on for several more years, carrying me through many new steps. At one point, the straps wore completely through the sole of the left shoe, but mama didn’t raise no quitter, so I fixed that with a paper clip trick I found on the internets.
A plain, worn, beat up, uninspiring, pair of flip-flops became symbolic for me, filled with the memories of the places I’d been, the things I’d shared, the emotions I’d felt, and the laughter, tears, heartache, and joy of this twisted, unexpected, journey called life. And those memories were worth far more than the $2.50 I spent on them years before.
Perhaps the most inelegant of memory albums, but for me, a small piece of history that I still treasure, long past the lifespan of those beloved flip flops.
So that’s my story for today. What do you hang onto?