Matt Roeder, Senior Designer at The Second City
There’s nothing particularly unique about these boots. They’re pretty standard brown leather boots from Aldo. They’ve got a zipper on the side, laces on the front and honestly, they’re worn to shit. They’re my favorite boots, though. I got them for Christmas from my mom, 5 years ago when I was finishing up college at Kansas State University. I came back to campus showing them off in my graphic design classes, improv shows and all the bars in Aggieville. They were a staple of my wardrobe. I remember wearing them to work at my on-campus job designing for the residence halls and dining centers. It was in that office that I received word that I’d been hired to fulfill my creative passions in Chicago as a designer at The Second City. Of course, the boots made the move with me.
They’ve been through rehearsals, auditions, and armpit-drenched meetings where I first shared my opinions on the direction of the look and feel for the company while wishing I had a second shirt. They met spray-mount filled socks that ripped up their lining after helping wallpaper a set in a new theater at The Second City Training Center. They’ve partied in Boystown. They’ve comfortably hugged my ankles for nerve-racking first dates. They’ve been pulled off the floor and onto my feet in the middle of the night to sneak out of I-don’t-know-who’s apartment. They’ve walked me to therapy where I worked on addressing and overcoming some of the traumas of my past. They’ve shared the formative experience of finding myself not only as a graphic designer or improviser, but as a person.
I’ve walked into Aldo dozens of times over the past few years looking to replace them before they eventually fizzle out, but none of the boots on the shelf appear to have the comfort or reliability as the pair that I own. Or a damn zipper on the side!
Interestingly, in writing this, I’ve realized maybe a new pair doesn’t have to. These shoes have been with me through some very unique challenges, and they’ve risen to the occasion. I can’t find any like them, because maybe, I don’t need a boot like this in the future. I mean sure, I will need brown boots, but maybe not brown boots that can stand up to the weathering of spilled Bud Light and Calypso Spiced Rum, or improv shows during which I poured out statements that were lies to myself, or concept brainstorms where I sought approval before speaking my mind. These boots have been good for me. I’ll wear them out. But they’ve served more than their purpose.
The next boots I get will be with me as I climb as a designer, take bigger risks as a comedian, and continue walking toward loving myself more every day. Wait though, maybe these boots will hold out for that. Who fuckin’ knows. I’m not throwing them out.