Shoes that Travel Miles for the Two of Us
Vicky Liu (+Video)
From the perspective of this pair of sneakers, Vicky Liu recounts the powerful bond she shares with her beloved sister in China. Wearing these shoes, she has travelled to many places. She shares her observations with her sister, thus bringing inspiration to her sister’s artistic works and changing her own life at the same time.
This is a pair of significant shoes that have changed my way of life. They carried me through many mountains and rivers as well as many prosperous cities and peaceful fields in China. They have also accompanied me to Canada, which was a far and strange place to me before, but has now become a familiar one full of enthusiasm.
These shoes are light, soft, and breathable, woven with black and dazzling pink thread alternating on the surface. Every time I see them, I can’t help thinking of my elder sister. It was the Spring Festival six years ago when my sister noticed my shoes were uncomfortable. She frowned and said, “Dear, you are busy with your work and have to take care of your daughter. How can you do without a pair of comfortable shoes?” Then she dragged me to the shoe store and bought this pair of sneakers as my New Year’s gift.
My sister is a romantic and talented person. She is crazy about painting and calligraphy. She has a dream—to go further to see and feel the vast world, galloping on the grassland, going through the desert, worshiping at a Confucian temple, and even going abroad. However, after graduating from secondary school, she got a job in our hometown as an art teacher. In the eyes of others, her life is happy and stable, but in her eyes, it cannot bring her passion and inspiration for her creations. She wanted to resign and pursue her ideal life that is full of freedom, novelty, and challenge.
At that time, I had formed my own family thousands of miles from home. In the end, she succumbed to the responsibility of taking care of my elderly and ailing parents and chose to stay in our hometown. I promised to phone her frequently because she was willing to hear the wonderful world I talked about and enjoy my photos. Several days after our phone calls, she would show me her artwork with her own understanding and her special love for nature.
I continued to extend my footsteps to farther places in this pair of shoes. Whenever I wanted to idle the days away, I would recall her words, “You’re my inspiration, go further, see more and get more, for yourself and also for me!”
In April this year, I decided to go to Canada. However, these shoes were left in my office because of the sudden COVID-19 lockdown. I tried every method to get these shoes back to take to Canada, not just because of the comfort they provide. They carry my sister’s blessings to me, her hope for me, and the extension of her own dreams.
Now that I’m in Canada, we still make video calls and I show her churches and houses in different architectural styles, geese, squirrels, and birds foraging leisurely everywhere, people of all colours living and working harmoniously. Through the videos, she has admired the sea-like surging lakes. She has extolled the vastness and grandeur of Niagara Falls. She has also marvelled at the yards adorned with skeletons and ghosts on Halloween. These are all inexhaustible sources of inspiration for her.
As a Chinese saying goes, “It is better to travel ten thousand miles than to read ten thousand books.” The shoes my sister bought for me have travelled those miles for the two of us. I am happy because I can be my sister’s eyes to the wider world. I’m grateful for the kinship between us, and I truly appreciate every step I’ve taken with this pair of shoes.
Vicky Liu, Master of Laws, was a university teacher in China for years. She loves travelling, writing, and music. In April 2022, she came to Canada with her family. She struggled to overcome the language barrier and integrate into social life. The Shoe Project encouraged her to meet people and become confident enough to share her stories.