By Ashwin Akki
UHS GRADUATE 2018
My sneakers, covered with paint stains and falling apart, take all my jumping and running through the halls. They have sat through my classes, tapped away in anticipation of the bell, and socialized with others of their fellow kind. On my feet for every new experience – that first kiss, fervent concerts, kayaking trips, expeditions through the woods, and the uncalled adventures to friends’ houses– my shoes have made the best memories. They show my uniqueness and define my character while expressing my interest and personality.
My track spikes, snug but not too tight, give me the fleet-footedness and momentum to complete my vault. They stick with me as I fling through the air into the pit of the pole vault mat, and exude an air of professionalism as I walk onto the track. My spikes give me the confidence that pushes me through my last 100 meters, to drive my knee forward on my vault, and to pass the baton onto the anchor of our relay team. They carry me to success and allow me to excel at my sport.
My ill-fitting tap dancing shoes are coated in scuff marks from a countless number of stubbed toes. The metal plates on the bottom vibrate with every rapid strike of my feet. In harmony with their brethren, they create a uniform echo throughout the auditorium; the sound resonates with every cast, crew, and audience member, a sound so loud that it drowns out the pit, but only for a moment. Then the next set of taps are enacted, each crisp movement creating that same uniform echo, the same resonation throughout the people. Finally, as the song reaches its climax, my feet perform the last time steps and balancés, ending with one monstrous and integral stomp by the full cast. Executed perfectly, our teamwork is met with a gregarious round of applause. The artistic side of me is very much alive.
The water and mud seeped through my sundried combat boots that I wore all summer at Army basic training, and with each step my feet became increasingly soaked in the puddles around me. As I lay firmly grounded in my fighting position, my M16A4 assault rifle is poised and ready to respond to any attack. I look to my left to see my battle buddy pulling security as well, then out of nowhere a loud 3-round burst fills the air. We pick up and throw on our assault packs; my combat boots, triple knotted to my feet, trek through the mud and slippery slopes, reinforcing my survival instincts. My boots giving me the constant sturdiness and security that the rest of me lost when the bullets were fired. The treads of my boot leave their imprint in the mud as my team shuffles to find new cover and advances through the objective. We return back to the patrol base after completing our field exercise and my battle buddies and I drop our weapons and pick up our boot cleaning kits. As a true professional does, we clean our boots and prepare them for the next day.
My various pairs of shoes don’t limit me to one persona, but they all come together in the end to form everything I embody and stand for. My sneakers show my charisma and my cherished relationships, my track spikes exemplify my competitiveness and confidence, while my tap shoes express the hard work and dedication to my artistic endeavors. Lastly, my combat boots emanate my undying will to protect the American way of life and conduct myself with professionalism. Each pair of shoes has lead me to new experiences, and I know there will be many more shoes in the future.