My Family as a Pair of Sneakers

Almudena Garcia-Garcia


Torn between her loving family in Spain and her desire to live in Canada, Almudena struggled to feel at home. It always seemed to be rainy or snowy in her adopted country, but her sneakers made her feel happy. 


When I returned to Spain in March 2018 for my sister’s wedding, I realized that saying goodbye to my family was getting harder with time. It wasn’t because I didn’t want to stay in Canada, but because I didn’t want to leave them behind. That time I went to Spain, I stayed there for almost a month. It was my longest visit since I came to Canada in 2014. We enjoyed a lovely, touching wedding. But as with all trips and celebrations, it had an end, and this one culminated a day after the wedding in a sea of tears.

The day of my departure, I was preparing to take the bus to the airport, and while I was tying my sneakers – the black ones I wore for dancing at the wedding – I remembered the pair that I wore for my first flight to Canada. They were very similar except for the colour. The old ones were the cause of a small argument with my Mom a few days before leaving home. I was packing my suitcase for the flight, and she was helping me. I think it’s more accurate to say that she was supervising me; she didn’t want me to forget anything important or to put something old in the suitcase. 

When I tried to put in my pair of sneakers, she asked: “You aren’t thinking of wearing those old shoes in Canada, are you?”

“Well, actually, I’m going to wear them during the flight.”

“Are you crazy? Those sneakers are decrepit; they even have holes in them.”

After taking a deep breath, I replied:

“I know, but they are my favourite pair, and I can’t leave them behind.” 

“Choose another pair of shoes; you have lots of them.”

“But I like these ones, and I want to bring them with me.”

She looked at me with tired eyes and said, “You’re as stubborn as your father. You’ll remember me when your feet get wet because of those holes.”

That time I won, but although I don’t like to admit it, my mother was right. The first day I stepped on Canadian soil, it was raining, and my feet got wet. The worst thing was that unlike the dry weather of Murcia, my place of birth, streets in Canada are wet most of the time, and after a while (long enough for my mother to stop asking about the sneakers), I tossed them into the back of my closet. I still think they are my favourite shoes, because they are a unique pair of purple shoes that I’ve ever had, and I’m glad I didn’t leave them behind. 

And here I was again after my sister’s wedding, tying another pair of sneakers to get ready to leave on my flight. However, it wasn’t going to be so easy. Before my sister drove my partner and me to the bus station, she asked us to write a few lines in her wedding guest book. When I was writing that little piece, the words were flowing from my mind at the same rate as the tears were streaming from my eyes. I remember I couldn’t see clearly, and I didn’t check my spelling. I tried to remember what I wrote that day, but I can’t. I just see us hugging each other, awash in tears. 

That day I really wished that my family could be like a pair of sneakers and fit in my suitcase. 

ALMUDENA GARCIA-GARCIA came to Canada from Spain to study environmental sciences. After finishing her Master’s degree, she continued studying. She is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in environmental sciences, working with climate models.

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