I’ll spare you the tragic details, but to put it flatly, I grew up broke. In elementary school, a fresh pair of Pro-Wings was about as “fresh” as I’d get. Or if Santa put me on the Nice list, there might be a pair of XJ-900s or some generic FILA’s under the tree. Major labels were mostly reserved for football cleats (on sale at the Chubby ‘N Tubby); I didn’t get my first pair of signature sneaks until the second Iversons came out when I was a teenager.
For me, Air Jordans were both a pipe dream and a source of taunting. I didn’t even bother looking at them in the store — my exposure was limited to my friends bragging about their newest pair, or flipping through the Eastbay catalog, claiming “I’ma get those!” knowing I was lying. Scrapping through high school and college on a respectable collection of mostly non-descript kicks, along the way I made a decision: When I got my first full-time job out of college, I would reward myself by taking my first paycheck and buying whatever new pair of Jordans were out. Didn’t matter if they were ass-ugly or if they cost $200, I was getting ’em.
(And yes, back then I knew everything I know now about the socio-economic trappings and the status symbolism of the whole thing, but that didn’t stop me from buying in. If you grew up broke, you’d understand.)
Now it’s 2006, and I’m fresh off the plane in New York City, my first day of my first “real” job at Dime. Soon after claiming my desk and meeting most of the crew face-to-face, my editor, Pat Cassidy, calls me into his office. He hands me a black shoebox with the unmistakable Jumpman logo. A “Welcome to the family” gift. I’m still disbelieving at this point, not wanting to get too excited for a letdown, but I know what’s up. I open the box, and there’s my first pair of Jordans. XX1’s. White, black and red. My size. And they weren’t even ugly. I wasn’t gonna cry or anything, but it was a moment.
I’m not much of a sneakerhead, so I wouldn’t know where the XX1’s rank on the hierarchy of Jordans, but they’ll always stand out to me. I’ve since owned a few other pairs of J’s, but those were also work perks: I still haven’t bought that first pair of Jordans I promised to buy.
But goals change, and I’ve made a new one: When the day comes, I’m paying whatever it costs for a infant-sized pair of XX1’s — my baby’s first pair of kicks.
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