Laces frayed, blackened at the ends from being untied too many times, then stepped on. White as vanilla bean, they now had the faint look of age, weathered and tattered from the rain and my hard stride. I felt like a child in them, petite and small against the rest of the world, a timid conversation in a grandiose and vast world. The smell of canvas was strong and deliberate, the soles rubbery and peeled, but I still wore them religiously. They were my Saturday morning shoes. I took them out for a spin with my morning coffee, 2 sugars and whole milk, my Saturday ritual. A moment of routine and familiarity amidst the bombastic New York morning.

The red piping along the edges of my shoe, so subtle but my favorite part. I knew I'd out grow them soon, but for now they would do. -NJ

I take my time deciding. I need to make sure you're the right fit. You like a fun night out, but you feel like regret. Like pain. Superficial confidence, pumped through media images and supermodel dreams, superimposed on my ego. Heel to toe, I am a goddess. Head to toe, I am modest and uncomfortable. I look tall but don't feel grounded. I can't feel ground. I only feel you. -AD

My toe, the second from left on the left foot, hurts, but everyone will look at me if I don't wear shoes today. It's also winter, and even though the bitter bites through the leather, they're necessary, another shield, another coat of armor.

I can smell them wearing down. I wear the brown scuffed boots every day, a creature of habit in a world that wears you down when you stay the same and it changes, but oh well. They're the ones that hurt my toes the least. My stocking-ed feet rub the insides like a mother rubs vix vapor rub on your chest, comforting but the cough is still there. My toe rubs one too many times and I can feel the penny water seeping slowly into the leather but i'm not where i need to be yet, not even close. I'll bleed stubbornly into my old leather boots that carry me daily because I'm cheap and I'm broke and New York City is breaking me slowly, but at least my shoes are broken in, accustomed to the cold of the wind and the wind of the looks from the people. -KM