Life and Culture

My Life According to My Converse Chucks Tradition

I bought my first pair of Converse Chuck Taylor All-Star around nine years ago when I was looking for a way to express myself fashion-wise. Back then, I already did the “make-holes-in-your-brand-new-jeans” look and the “tear-up-your-t-shirt” look, but I wanted something to distinguish myself from others who were doing the same. Since other people also wore Chucks, I decided to choose an unusual color, change the laces and wear them until they disintegrated.

Back then, I was in my early 20s, fresh out of college and experiencing the thrill of spending my own money. I liked to wear colorful outfits and even more colorful make-up. I chose purple Chucks and added bright yellow laces. That color combination was repeated in my outfits and I came to be known as the purple-and-yellow girl. I wore them with jeans and dresses. Once I heard an old person comment loudly, “Chucks with skirts?” It was the early 2000s before the time Korean pop stars fully invaded Manila culture. Most people still did not understand that Converse Chucks could be worn with anything, even ball gowns if you dared to.

I wore that pair during what I would call my “loud” years. Those were the years when I was still not sure who I was and what I was supposed to be doing. I did what I did because I was having fun. I chose loud colors because I wanted to be noticed, except there was nothing beyond the loud colors.

After four years of wearing those purple Chucks almost every day, the soles became too thin and my (yellow!) socks peeked out from holes in the canvas. At that time too, my life needed a change. I had to get out of a dead-end job no matter how fun it was. By then it was also time to buy my second pair of Chucks.

I was a little older and was definitely over the purple and yellow combination. I wanted something more subdued, but not bland. I chose orange and changed the white laces to blue. Ok, so orange is not exactly a subdued color, but it wasn’t as in-your-face as the bright purple Chucks with neon yellow laces. I was also in a more serious job with a dress code (gasp!). My orange Chucks only got worn during casual Fridays with knee-length skirts or dresses, or with trousers or jeans.

Orange became my wardrobe’s “neutral” color. I weeded out my bright purple t-shirts and miniskirts holding on to them until my closet became too disorganized. My bright eye-shadow was also thrown away to be replaced with more sophisticated make-up.

I again wore that pair to shreds. Curiously, it did not last four years even if I did not use it as frequently as the purple pair. I used to say to people who liked orange that it is the color of insanity; and perhaps it was true in my case. My orange Chucks were worn during what I would call my “insanity” years. The blue laces played their part too since I was constantly depressed. I left the comfort of a fun but dead-end job to take a risk in the financially rewarding but artistically depressing world of the money-making international corporation. I lived those years on auto-pilot, almost giving up at times.

When I finally got out of the “insanity” years, my orange Chucks were falling apart. I put my Chucks tradition aside and got cheapo pairs of old lady Chinese canvas shoes. I wondered if I was ever going to go back to wearing Chucks.

I finally decided to get another pair – my third – when my freelance writing job paid for a project I had just finished. I hovered between a bright teal pair and a brown pair. I thought teal was too bright, too young, too inexperienced. I thought brown was too blah. Then I saw a dark green one and figured it would be perfect with my bohemian wardrobe and my make-up-less face. I changed the laces to grey. Initially I thought of orange laces, but I think grey is good. It is not as boring as white or black. My shoes don’t have to scream my existence anymore because now I want to stand out because of who I am and because of my work, not because of my shoes.

My dark green Chucks begins what I would like to call my “hope” years. I don’t intend to be a freelance writer forever. I want to be a serious writer known for my writing style and for the intensity of my characters. No vampire romances and grey-eyed sex perverts please. No more intense colors without any substance. No more shouting out for the sake of shouting out.

Dark green Chucks with grey laces say I’m deep, meaningful, hopeful, and unusual. I’ve come home to who I am supposed to be.

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