A Love Letter To My Converse

Kelsey Nguyen

Step one: tell friends you still own the same pair of Converse Chuck Taylors from seventh grade. Step two: experience reactions of confusion, disbelief, and fear. Step three: continue to wear said pair of Converse (optional step: lose certain "friends"). I'm here to tell you that, yes, 22-year-old me still owns the same Converse kicks that 14-year-old me did. To some, the thought of such ancient kicks might be revolting. To me, my worn Converse sneakers are like a memento box.

In my opinion, buying Converse is basically another translation for, "get sentimentally attached to a pair of shoes. I dare you." As someone prone to emotions and crying in every Pixar short, I should have seen this coming. My black All-Stars have essentially grown up with me throughout the years. They have endured the horror stories of adolescence, the melodramatic high school years and now, perhaps the most treacherous of them all, the college student/pretend adult era. For that reason alone, I cannot bear to part with my Converse sneakers.

Kelsey Nguyen

Dug through my 2009 Facebook album for this very picture of my Converse at Mt. Vesuvius. I regret nothing.

Cliché as it sounds, my Converse are a fragment of my identity. They have traveled the globe with me since day one. They've been with me on an eighth grade Disneyland trip where I snapped low-res group selfies on my iPhone 3G. Walking up a hill at Mount Vesuvius in Italy. Hiking with sherpas in Morocco's Ourika Valley (were, ironically, I was 98 percent convinced my cause of death would be 'slipping off a rock thanks to my favorite Converse'). Venturing the cobblestone streets of Paris during my semester abroad, where impossibly cool French girls would side-eye my choice of footwear because they weren't Stan Smiths. Trekking through the crimson dirt trails of Bryce Canyon Park in Utah, where I apologized in advance to my beloved canvas kicks.

Take one look at my Converse and you'll see that they have braved a lot. Apart from water damage and countless rips and tears, there's the graffiti, too. I distinctly remember sitting in the back row of my seventh grade science class, writing philosophical quotes on my shoes, such as "I <3 Muffin!!!" because I was in love with a boy and, yes, his codename was Muffin. Oh, and did I mention the "Juicy 4ever" engraved in ballpoint pen on my left Converse? Yes, that too. My Converse have seen it all.

Kelsey Nguyen

I call this: Taking pictures on Photobooth in 8th grade computer class and trying to look cool featuring my Converse, of course.

Though my genius sneaker graffiti has faded over the years, I can still faintly make out the scribbles today. It is truly strange how one subtle relic of my middle school years can instantly transport me back in time when I was a teenager, and where the most frightening life concept was if someone liked me back or not.

Most recently, I wore my trusty Converse on a family trip to Kauai in August. At 22, it is somewhat alarming that I can still fit into the same shoes I wore at 14, but what is perhaps even more incredible is the fact that they have yet to fall apart. The spiritual side of me views this is as a symbol from the universe, that maybe — just maybe — the purpose of my Converse shoes is no longer "footwear" at this point.

Converse (or any favorite pair of shoes for that matter) mean something different to everyone. For James Dean, it was the epitome of the youth in revolt uniform. In Sofia Coppola's Marie Antoinette, it was Kirsten Dunst with pastel blue Chuck Taylors, jamming to opera and indie rock. For me, after 8 years, my Converse are not just the everyday sneaker, but a nostalgic souvenir that I will never have the heart to trash.