Twila Napoleoni was judged the winner of Yorkton Story Slam 2023 held at the Yorkton Public Library on Oct. 18 with an ode to a pair of sandals that served her well.
Tied for second were CV Parameshwaran for The Prestige of a Time Traveller, and Jo-Ann Kennedy with her poem Talk of Ages.
Authors each had five minutes to tell their stories at this family-friendly event, and were adjudicated by a panel of five local judges. The winner received a $100 prize.
Following is the winning entry:
An Ode to My Tevas
by Twila Napoleoni
“Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.” This was the unspoken rule I grew up with. My parents learned from their parents, who learned from their parents…
And so with that in mind, it was not lightly that I let my old Tevas go to rest. A flippant toss in the garbage bin didn’t merit justice to these two old souls that had kept mine abreast for so many years.
80 quetzales – around $12 Canadian -- in one of the many shoe stores in Guatemala City doesn't sound like a lot now, but was hard to part with for someone who paid off her student loans while volunteering full time. If there was one thing my shoestring upbringing taught me it was to always look for the bargain. But after many kilometre put on my previous souls, my feet needed companions who would stand the test of time. So with duress and the opening of my change purse a little wider than I wanted, the size 8 pair of Tevas became mine.
They didn't take long to prove themselves as our first adventure was a hike up the recently-formed jagged pumice stone on the slopes of Volcán Pacaya to watch the nocturnal show of spewing lava, something a safe Canadian adventure would never allow, but this Canadian adventurer welcomed. Not long after, they helped me walk, no run, away from one of those boomerang relationships I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy. Boots are made for walking... Tevas are made to take your tush outta there.
They walked with me in the re-newness of Yorkton streets. I had never thought I'd move back to the place I was born and raised in after tasting life abroad for over 12 years, but it proved a beautiful “rebirth” of sorts.
They walked with me on the last on my list of inhabited continents to visit, as I discovered the beauty of land and people in my fiancé-turned-husband’s home and native land of Chile.
They housed tired and swollen feet, not to mention extra weight from one, two, three pregnancies.
They hiked through the rolling hills of the Okanagan with our group of five lifelong friends who gather from across Canada – and sometimes the world -- for a tri-annual face-to-face gathering of sharing life in all its glory and splendour and pain. And once again three years later as us five women gathered and hiked the trails of Yorkton's nature reserve. And another three years later… Yes. They were still with me as we biked through the sandy dunes at Good Spirit Lake sharing laughter, giddiness and the sobriety of life.
They donned feet for a once in a lifetime visit with the whole family as we accompanied my Dad on his first -- his only -- visit to see his favourite team play ball in person as his Blue Jays took on the Minnesota Twins on their home turf. And they rode the train back from the stadium as mine and my best friend’s families amalgamated for the first time with cheerful chatting and laughter, as we mused at the sight and sounds we couldn't even summon in our hearts years earlier.
Through all this, plus countless hikes to the supermarket, easy slip on and off for watching my girls learn an important discipline at taekwondo, swimming classes where, by then, I knew no one would “accidently” take them home, they had walked with me. The obvious wear couldn’t help but show that I indubitably put more weight on the outside of my feet than the inside but only they and I knew where we walked.
If dog years were the same as shoe years, my Tevas made it to the ripe old age of 84. And although their souls will go neither up, nor down, but just into the realms of the garbage dump, their spirit lives on in the memories I have made with them on my feet. And for that, I am grateful. They have worn well, my good and faithful Tevas!
Post note: My Tevas have since been replaced by my Chacos, who now also follow in the long line of faithful shoes which will be used up and worn out and will -- indubitably – have countless more adventures tied to their name.