A pair of Nike shoes that used a blue colour palette that faded from dark blue to light blue with dashes of grey thrown into the mix. They bought the shoes separately, way before they even knew of the existence of the other. The difference in their shoe sizes was the number 3. They have long since thrown away the pair of shoes - it had been worn so many times that it suffered the consequences of wear and tear and no longer served its functions. But the memory of that pair of Nike shoes - that Pair of Nike Shoes - remains deeply etched in their memories.
They giggled through two years of wearing a weary dull khaki, making jokes that were repeated, but never tired, about a junior college full of Deltas out of Huxley's Brave New World. Free periods spent alternately sleeping and gossiping at the study benches along the corridors, laughing at Science students and their highly creative English, deciphering graffiti left on the tables, flipping through fashion magazines, bitching about classes and teachers and schoolmates. The canteen first doused them in a stink of fried chicken that stuck obdurately to their bodies, then brightened up and finally had room to breathe.
You remember everything about JC and simultaneously you don't remember much. The details, while still there, are sketchy; but it's the impression that counts. Guys and crushes and boyfriends came and went, once-tight acquaintances soon became total strangers; but you stuck around with the girl that wore the same shoes as you. Wife, husband, genius, prodigy, life had a whole new level of Patootness, and best friend. And so as the heartland carcasses of this city-state yawn deep into the night, so too does the girl with the same shoes...but not without first writing this for you.
Happy belated birthday, Mel.