I've always noticed lone shoes on the side of the road--they would be in the median, on the sidewalk, along the highway, and other random places. And only one- I always wondered why they were flying solo, and why they were missing their other half. How had they come to be alone? When I'd seen enough of them, I started carrying around a disposable camera (long before the iPhone) taking shots of them from different angles. And when I take the pictures I never so much as lay a finger on them because I want to snap the shots as is, as they were left or discarded. I then take a picture of the location, a street sign or something that helps define the area and a beginning of a collection of forgotten journeys began.
It's been about ten years now. The first time I pulled over, I felt like a freak as I frantically veered off or pulled U-turns in the the middle of traffic. Exit. Highway. Neighborhood. It didn't matter. I found myself running into the medians or in front of houses, constantly wondering what people thought of me as I stood, hunched over and taking my pictures. But I was fascinated and the more pictures I took, the more shoes appeared. I'm guessing it's simply just a newfound awareness. But as I suddenly found one, I suddenly found them everywhere. I've found soles in many of the places that I lived or traveled--everywhere from Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas; Charlotte, North Carolina, Charleston, South Carolina; Las Vegas, Nevada; I even found one in San Francisco while vacationing with a group of students on a field trip, though they paid my absurdity no mind as I ran in the middle of the road to capture a lone sneaker. They waved it off as another eccentric tendency of their middle school English teacher.
I had no idea what I wanted to do with this new inclination; I just felt an propensity to collect these lost soles in some form to pay homage to their existence. But I do wonder sometimes if I am the only person who does this. But every time I've mentioned it to someone, they'll say, "No, I've never noticed them before" or give me the, "Oh, yeah, like the two shoes hanging over the telephone wire?" No, that's not what this is about. I'm talking about a single shoe on the side of the road. Surely, I can’t be the only one that notices them? Regardless, these lost and forgotten soles have a story. Where is their other half? Why were they discarded? How did they come to be lost or forgotten and in such strange places? Am I like one of these lost soles in my fascination with them---that remains to be seen. Either way, I'm defining my own story as I tell theirs.