I remember as a child, while on vacations my mother would drag me to see the ruins. I was never very interested; as someone so young I was still trying to understand the eccentricities of life which left me with very little time for what follows. In her book, Repair, Elizabeth Spelman discusses repair in terms of ruins, a peculiar case. She notes:
When it comes to ruins, H. reperans better take of its tool belt- not so much because there is nothing it can possibly do, but because any work it might do would threaten the status of the remains as ruins and diminish their power to give pleasure or instruct. (Spelman 104)
Ruins are by their nature a preservation of history and what once was. To attempt to return them to their functionality is to erase its history and the damage that so defines it, degrading it to essentially nothing. Ruins are similar cases to paintings in that any work done to repair them diminishes their authenticity, such as the work done by Louise, Irene, and co. And while as a child I was uninspired by the mass of rubble that were the ruins of ancient civilizations and their dorky tourist traps in another sense I have spent much of my life preserving my own. My ruins however are not so much in the literal sense of weathered colonies or dismantled castles, so much as a long worn out pair of shoes.
If ruins speak of and speak to humans’ relationship to their gods, and to nature, they also mediate our relations with other humans, both living and dead. (Spelman 107)
In SAT question format- Machu Picchu is to the Incas as a pair of Chuck Taylor Converse are to me. A well-used pair of shoes, a ruin of the once crisp, pristine, fresh-out of the box, black high top Chuck Taylor Converse they once were. On the toe is the word “Spaceman” a reference to an old Killers song I still love. The sole of the left shoe is secured with Scotch blue painter’s tape, as the house was out of duct tape and my 12 year old feet had grown too big for my 11 year old shoes. The bumpers of each shoe had long since turned yellow, brown and black, nearly every color with all of my steps, the word “ALL STAR” is still distinguished on the heel despite clear fading due to repeated inscription in a black sharpie. My shoes, while appearing worn down, exhausted and dilapidated have never been of more used to me then as they serve now, acting as a memory. Just as the fraying brown stained laces of my converse intertwine so do the bonds they create between my past and current self, a way to memorialize the small girl that once occupied those shoes. Within each ding to the rubber liner and each scuff is both the story of the shoe and its wearer. The traces of a piece of gum wedged to the bottom of the shoe- serves as a reminder of a trip to New York, a distortion in the sole- a lesson on the consequences of putting shoes in the dryer. My shoes are as much a part of me as Chichen Itza is to the Mayan culture. Any attempt to restore them to their initial state is a removal of their history, my history, and my memory of the 12 year old that once wore them.