Dearest Chaco,

I have started and restarted this letter too many times to count…

I am a writer. And yet when it comes to professing my love over a pair of shoes….I have lost all sense of logical words. The fact that this is the first time I have ever actually truly genuinely loved a pair of shoes is besides the point……

I digress. How do you write about something that has been the one constant in your life? The one thing that you knew would always be there for you – to lean on, to walk with, to feel happiness again? Is it possible to even think about facing a life without them?

I don’t know either…. I don’t even know if I am ready to write this….

But my love for my Chacos – outweighs the pain from some of the memories I am about to relive.

….I guess I need to just rip-the-band-aid-off…

July 20th, 2019….516 days ago….I received a gift that I never knew I would come to count on, lean on, or grieve together with.

But let me back up for a second. Things were tense at home for unrelated reasons. I think I was supposed to go on a 16 mile solo hike but then family drama ensued. But moving on. Things were tense, I needed out. So I jumped in the car with my mom and Aunt and had them take me to REI. 

It was only a few weeks post our annual Scout Hullabaloo, and I was still green with envy of my cool scout friends who looked super comfy in sandals that they wore All. Over. Camp while my sweaty feet were cramped in hiking boots that were definitely anti-comfy.

I needed a pair. No. I HAD to have a pair. I have been living vicariously thru my friends for 2 years now.

I knew they were expensive. I wasn’t going to be able to afford them until my life drastically changed somehow. But…..will they even fit my wide feet? I fell in love with TOMS….but I can still feel the heartbreak from not being able to fit in them. 

Story of my life….I can never get my hopes up because 9 times out of 10 – I just don’t fit in things. Movie theater seats, halloween costumes, cars….shoes. 

So in order to protect myself – I decided I need to go at least try them on before my hopes get an ego.

Off to REI I went. Straight to the shoe section. And thanks to a sale – it was super busy……….

The wait to try them on was a little longer than I liked. I just wanted to get this heartbreak done and over with. 

There was one design on a Woman’s shoe that I fell in love with. But I grabbed a men’s pair just in case…..

The shoes came out, I took off whatever shoe I was wearing at the time – probably Keen sandals I bought online but were too small for my fat feet.

I put on the woman’s shoe….and of course it didn’t fit. No big deal. I grabbed a men’s pair just in case. 

My feet slid in like butter. The REI salesperson adjusted the straps, explaining as she goes. I didn’t hear a single word. I was too amazed that my feet fit. 

As she tightened the straps, we were talking about her Chacos she was wearing, and that she practically lives in them year round.

Living in a Sandal? Year round? In Oregon? Maybe during the summer months…

She told me to stand, so I naturally jumped up. 

My smile grew wider with each step I took. 

How can a shoe make me feel so….so….happy…..and instantly?

 The Chacos fit.  They really do!! The Chacos fit my fat feet!

As I slowed my pace back to my mom and Aunt, I prepared myself to say goodbye….to a pair of shoes. 

I took a picutre with my eyeballs and made a mental note of the size as they disembarked my feet. 

They fit. But I couldn’t afford them that day. I was purely appeasing my hopes before they were shattered once more.

I clearly don’t have a good poker face because next thing I know – my mom and aunt decided to purchase them for me. 

July 20th, 2019….516 days ago….I received a gift that I never knew I would come to count on, lean on, or grieve together with.

A gift that has become an integral part of who I am. A gift that is part of my brand new signature style (heh….I have one of those…me…weird…so weird). 

A gift that has carried me mile after mile of forest as I battled my inner dragons; mile after mile of grief filled dark days. 

A gift that survived the storm that led to my world crumbling after my best friend died in April 2020. 

A gift….that has been by my side – mile by mile – as I rise from the rubble, and carried me as I finally discover my truth, my passion, my reason for still being alive. 

Chacos Experience Life

Periods of time in history – is usually notated by BC or BCE / AD or CE.

The division of when one era ended, and another began. 

Fun fact about me….I have a few divisions in my life that I categorize my memories by: Before vs. After Marriage. Before vs. After Kids. Before vs After 2020….

The death of my best friend this year is my current era of life. I don’t even recognize the person I was back then. Before my friends death – if you told me who I would be today – I would have chuckled, and then immediately worried about your health.

I would sacrifice my own life if it meant another moment in her presence. The painful grief that shattered my soul into a thousand pieces for months – is indescribable. 

But I digress. Thats not the point of my letter to you today. 

16 days ago, my husband pointed out that my shoe was ummmmm basically in half. Like I lazily decided to slide across a razor blade for the heck of it. 

That night, before I went to bed – I gathered all of the photos I took of life with my Chacos. I reminisced about the events that led to our first meeting. And I slowly remembered the details that came rushing back – of each photo I took post Chaco Life. 

15 days ago, after still having a terrible Poker Face – my husband told me that his Christmas gift to me this year….wait…what? We have been together 15 years and we rarely can afford something for each other….yes please what are you getting me dear husband? Husband told me to order new Chacos. 

Um yes please. yes yes yes yes. 

You don’t choose Chacos. They choose you.

Fun Fact: I am a loyal subaru owner because my youngest and I were T-boned by a red light runner. Our subaru saved our lives. 

I put alot….ALOT…of value on Nouns that keep me safe and make me feel welcome……..wait…is that why I have a gazillon photos of my dogs, my kids, and my dirty feet?…..

And the best support character goes to: CHACOS!

Oh Chacos. The life we have lived in the past 516 days.

The end is coming soon. The moment when I can no longer hold you tight – is almost here. I can feel you pulling away. I can feel your touch get weaker. 

This isn’t going to be goodbye. 

But you may be gone before I am ready. 

I cannot live without you….heck I don’t even know where my one other pair of tennis shoes are and boots are the bane of the existence of this: #AdventuringIsAHazardousOccupation…

But there is something else I need to do first. You have been with me every milestone so far, so this shouldn’t surprise you. But first – building my website is a more pressing matter. 

You were there when I discovered that Writing is my purpose in life. And I will never forget that. You have been fighting hard to stay around to watch me fly. 

I had to give myself an ultimatum: affording brand new shoes, or build a website that will allow me to buy ALL THE SHOES. 

Its clearly a “who do you save” philosophical conundrum. But when you step back and look the big picture my dearest Chacos….

…..getting one step closer to making my dreams become reality will afford a closetful of Chaco Love that will continue supporting me on all my adventures, internally and externally, personally and professional, spiritually and physically. 

A backpack full of Chaco Love that will travel with me – not just across my world, but across the #ChacoNation….NO………….the #ChacoWorld, where we will experience all kinds of firsts together…..eeeeeeek I cannot wait

Chacos deserve a break too

My dearest Chacos, 

I know it is going to be rough for a while. 

I am starting my new business, on top of working my soul sucking day job, on top of homeschooling and playing animal referee all while yearning to go camping again……

Where was I going with this? 

Ahhh yes! I don’t know how long it is going to take me….but no matter what, I am going to promise you…nope. I am going to PINKY promise you – that on my first actual check from someone hiring me as a Content Creator/Copywriter/Storyteller – I am going to run to you. 

And I am going to embrace you like a Mama Wolf warms her cubs…..tightly close.

My dearest Chacos – I know we have been thru so much in these past 516 days. But I want to thank you. In all the chaos – I could always count on my Chacos (heh….Chacos is like Chaos but with a C….clearly proving that life is chaos without Chacos)

Heh…..I crack myself up sometimes.

Now the real question is – will I wear them when we go play in the snow up at Mt Hood…
..will they even last that long?
Challenge Accepted.
Chacos, if you make it – then I pinky promise to watch you experience snow for the first time.

ohplusalso – when we go play in the snow – we will have successfully felt all 4 seasons as an inseparable team.

No seriously….you have been my only source of foot love at least the past 11 months. The REI Salesperson was on to something wearing Chacos and only Chacos year round. 

I dont think I am ready to say goodbye. I have said goodbye to too much this year. Why am I crying over a pair of shoes? 

Maybe because you,  my dearest Chacos, were so much more than a pair of shoes….


Adventure On with Curiosity,
-Kelly Steele

Till we meet again.

I am not getting paid for this story. This story is not sponsored by Chacos (…..yet…). Just written by a Real Human with a Real Life.

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