Put Yourself in my Shoes

Nouha Themi


Nouha’s journey to Canada has been a rollercoaster ride, which she reflects on in this story about transitioning from her lovely leather boots to her handcrafted, practical snow boots. She shares some of the simple and profound moments that changed her life and contributed to her personal growth.


I love looking at my hourglass. It’s fascinating to stare at the fine sand grains running and competing to define the time. The more I look, the deeper my memories resurface. I see myself twelve years ago, walking side by side with my mom. I was excited, happy and hopeful. Finally, I convinced her to let me follow my dreams and study abroad, to live the life I always wanted for myself. 


Our walk led us to a clothing store. It was the end of the fall. It was raining lightly outside. Mama called to me, “Why don’t you try on this pair of boots? They’re thick and should keep you warm once you travel and experience the snow.”


I tried on the boots. They were comfortable yet chic. My mom always had the finest taste. I looked at her for approval. “What do you think?” 


She smiled, her beautiful hazel eyes full of tears, “They fit you perfectly.”


The Canadian winter has always been appealing to me. I imagined the white snow falling from the heavens, slowly covering the earth with a beautiful white carpet. I soon learned that I should check the weather before leaving the house. One November afternoon, I read, “Cloudy with 65 percent chance of flurries, Low minus 8”. But what’s the meaning of “flurries”? I Googled it. Oh, light snow! I smiled, excited because finally I would see the snow and could go for a walk in my lovely leather boots! 


On the way home, I tried to walk slowly because the streets were slippery. When I got home and took off my leather boots, I noticed some white marks because of the flurries. I went to my room and thought about the snow. The weather will become worse and the snow will be heavier. It doesn’t seem like a great idea to wear my leather boots. Although warm and stylish, they are not slip resistant. I love them so much. They are a part of my happy and sad memories. They match my taste, but unfortunately, I knew they weren’t what I needed for the Canadian winter. I needed to buy a different pair. My new snow boots are one of my best investments, great quality, neutral colour, and handcrafted in Canada. 


I still have the leather ones that I love and bought with Mom. They travelled with me, witnessed all my preparations, my joy and also my goodbyes. Those boots are so dear to me, high-heeled, made of a cool brown leather, soft and warm on the inside. I couldn’t wear them that much in winter back home in Tunisia. There is no snow there, so they were always in great condition. I wrapped them with care and placed them in my dark closet, but I never forgot about them. I felt heartbroken. It was so difficult to admit that what I loved couldn’t be what I needed. But they will always be a part of my journey. 


Life can be like a story, full of untold chapters. My dark closet in Canada stores my favourite leather boots, my practical snow boots, and also other shoes. My dark closet in Tunisia stored my admission letter to the University of Sherbrooke. I kept it for many years. The day I was packing for my journey to Canada, the letter caught my eye. It was old and smelled earthy with a subtle note of vanilla. At that time, what I wanted and what I needed were the same thing: to shred the letter, and move on. It has been twelve years but I finally made it….

Nouha Themi is a financial services professional from Tunisia. She has been living in Canada for the past twelve years. She is trilingual and is passionate about creativity, art, science, and travelling.

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