Daniel Walt, Google


I was moving to Manhattan and I felt like I needed to buy new shoes.

I'm going to be a bit odd, and say that I don’t have any one particular memory from them. It's really the collection of the fact that six months were spent with these shoes on, walking up and down Ninth Avenue. Because where I was living at the time was so far removed from a subway that I wouldn't save any time by taking it, so I just ended up walking all the way to work and back home every day.

These shoes are Ninth Avenue, as far as I'm concerned. You ask a normal New Yorker about Ninth Avenue and they’ll say “Oh it’s expansive ... the west side” or they might say that, I don’t know. But these shoes are my 34th to 15th … and I don’t mean to make it more grandiose that it should be … but these taught me what Chelsea was. And having been a tourist before I've been drug onto the High-line or other attractions, which is one way to see the city. But for me just the sheer amount of times I’ve walked past that Starbucks under Google on Ninth Avenue alone has taught me so much more about New York than any gallery or monument.   

I know this isn't really part of it, but just to let you know how important it is ... About two months ago I pulled the crap of the lace on my right shoe to try to tie it, and now I have one small lace and three long ones. I have worn these laces out so much that you can see and feel just how frayed they are.

And the first day I came back to Chicago to see you, I had just bought these shoes from J. Crew. And what's really ironic is that same J. Crew store is less than a block away from where we now live together. I remember I had to walk from Christopher's place on 34th and Ninth to get to that J. Crew to buy these shoes. And then I ended up on the plane to Chicago and I felt like a million bucks. And the crazy thing is that I looked at the people on the plane differently, like “I’m not going home to Chicago. I live in New York now! I'm just on a vacation.” But then I got delayed and it was terrible, it was honestly the first trip back. I don't think I got in until three o'clock in the morning. And honestly I just wanted to be home, but we were still working through the transition and I still really wasn’t sure where home was.

It's crazy because New York made me think that I needed to have things like that — clothes, or jeans, or fashion — or these shoes. I thought, “I’m in the big city, I gotta do this now!” But today, after eight or nine months, I don’t care at all about how these shoes look or that my pants are worn down. A switch has flipped. I don't have to impress anybody. I’m honestly just genuinely cool living in this geography. It flipped from New York as a social status to New York as a geography … it's just a space.

And it's a space that affords me the opportunity to just be in as small of a part of it as I need to — humorously because our New York apartment is as small of a space as is affordable —  but you know I mean. And that's why I continue to wear these shoes every single day. Every single day.

The soles used to be white but now they are this color, I call it the signature “New York yellow”.  It might be a ridiculous thing to say ... it is probably a ridiculous thing to say … but I would eat off of these shoes. I would eat off of them because I know where they've been. These are one of the only things in my life that I know exactly where they've been, and I love that.