End of summer ode to my Birks
Having been raised to be incredibly frugal when it came to the purchase of frivolous items like clothing, it took me until I was solidly in my third decade on this planet to realize the irreplaceable beauty that must-have items like Sorel boots and Smartwool socks can bring into one's life when they live in Minnesota. After testing the waters (thrifting Sorels and scooping up Smartwool on clearance at Nordstrom Rack), my life was changed and I never looked back. Perhaps it is due to the fact that in Minnesota we have all of three months of warm weather (in contrast to a solid 6+ months of straight up winter), but there had never been a seemingly unnecessary summer-time name brand item that I had sought out as a potential staple...until I found my Birks.
Now, I've always been a fan of the Birk (better known as the Birkenstock), having always favored hippie stock characters (Phoebe in Friends, Dawn in BSC, Dharma from Dharma and Greg before I knew Jenna Elfman was a Scientologist), but the closest thing I ever got to a Birk as a youngster was the cheap knock-off version they had at Shopko. Which didn't even hold a candle—not even a flame!–to the actual Birk experience. In fact, I could argue that the Shopko version of the Birk actually ruined Birks for me for quite some time, as the chemically faux leather bed of said shoe just dried out my feet, rather than providing a welcoming pillow of smoothness that embraced my dogs as a "thank you" for what they deserve (after all, I use them a lot, for standing and stuff).
When I became an "adult" (cough), I had this thing called a job, and some discernible amount of disposable income, with which I started doing "adult things" like buying plane tickets and going to happy hour. One adult thing I happily found out I could do was spend my money on clothing, but a combo of learned frugalness and love of deals (that continues with me to this day, naturally) meant that I'd much rather spend my time scouring rummage sales and thrift shops for said clothing, and rejoicing when I found a particular item of value, than paying full price for an item (shudder).
Now, during one of my "adult things" trips to Mexico, I spied a display at some hip Mexican shop with Birkenstocks and I was like, "Whoa, if Birkenstocks are cool in Mexico, then they are definitely cool," and made it my mission to find my very own pair of Birks.
At the price of however-much-new-Birks-actually-are (Spoiler alert!: I still don't know), I resisted the impulse to just go buy a pair (I was, after all, just in Mexico). but then....happy day for me, I found a pair of sandals that were very similar to Birks, and of much higher quality than my Shopko knock-offs from back in the day at a rummage sale for $1! One whole dollar! Can you believe it!? CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?!
So, duh, I bought the suckers and proceeded to wear them happily, much to the chagrin of many of my friends who didn't realize how awesome Birks/sandals that looked like Birks were, especially with socks, and labeled them my "fake Birkenstocks." Later I realized that the brand they were was actually even "nicer" than Birks, but whatever. I wore my fake Birks for years, until they were falling to bits and the bed got all weird and discolored and I was like "ew, I don't want to wear these any more, I guess I'm done with Birks," but I. DIDN'T. EVEN. KNOW. I mean, I did know, at least to the extent that I loved comfort shoes (as evident by this post I did a while back for the Ironing Board Collective, which also touches on my love of/past with Birks).
But then (and this is when things get good, so I hope you are still reading), the thrifting goddesses smiled way hard on me when I was in California with my fam this spring, my sister-in-law (who btw, had just purchased, and was wearing, this really rad pair of Birks that I was mega jealous of), yelled from across the thrift shop we were at, "Are you a 38?!" and SHE HAD FOUND A BRAND NEW PAIR OF BIRKS THAT COST $8 JUST FOR ME! And, even though we were in Palm Desert, I almost had to wrestle another woman from Minnesota who was a 38 for them. Almost. Also, radical honesty, I'm more of a 39.
Anyway. Since then, my life has changed. And I hate winter. Like, absolutely hate it. But this year, the changing of the seasons is bumming me out even more hardcore because I had the realization that soon I WILL NO LONGER BE ABLE TO WEAR MY BIRKS. I know I can wear them inside, with socks, because even inside it is freezing, but it's just not the same. I suppose it will just give me one more thing to look forward to 9 months from now when summer finally returns.