If I can’t wear my boots, I ain’t going.

My boot has a bit of blood and flesh on it. I look down and casually flick it off with my finger. The blood will wash off or it won’t and my boot will always be marked by my experiences.

I bought these boots for my birthday last year. In the months since, they have served as witnesses to the evolution of my self. At first, perfectly pristine, they lived inside my house. Sat on my table as both décor and footwear. Today, they stay outside, they are too covered in dirt and shit and blood. They serve as a reminder that I am actually living my life. They have become my storytellers. I stopped caring about scuffing them a long time ago.

Standing on the back porch of where I work, I contemplate how I found myself butchering deer for a living. I try to reach into the past, to talk to myself. But I don’t really know her anymore; she has become a hazy memory. She was a talented well-known photographer. Her days were marked by circus and art. Her weekends crammed with shows and travel. She could cook a mean meal but couldn’t bake. Falling in lust quite easily, she made a lot of questionable dating choices. She was a beautiful, directionless, mess.

My boots have never met her. They only know me. The me that hikes alone at night, unafraid, because these woods are the back of my hands. They only know the me that stands confidently in the middle of a herd and says…either you move or I’ll move you. They only know the me that picks up a knife and looks at the side of deer and goes to work. The me, that committed my heart to one person, without a second thought or regret. They don’t know my past, but they will walk me to my future.

They say that when you get a new pair of boots. It takes a while to break them in. But once they are conformed to your feet, it’ll feel as if you are running barefoot through your life. Life. It has been an adjustment. I have had to adjust to sleeping in the quiet, with the only rustle of a tree, or the distant bark of a neighboring dog to lull me to sleep. I have had to adjust myself to days filled with so much I don’t know and so much I have to learn. Everything has been an adjustment, as if I have been turning knobs to find myself.

And through it all, are my boots. They have also adjusted. Now, they are completely formed to the shape of my feet. They are ready for the next step and I think, finally, so am I.

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