5/8. The first pair of boots I ever had were construction boots. I think I was three or four years old when I got them. I didn’t talk much at that age, certainly not as much as I do now. I don’t know how excited I was about having them, but my mother does. She remembers me wearing them home from the store, outside all afternoon, we probably went to Old Sturbridge Village, or Paoletti’s Fruit Store then home. My mother told me I was so happy to have those boots that I wore them to bed. She asked me if I could take them off, and I said something about needing them to be ready. For what, who knows? I called them my “instruction boots.” It made sense to my brain, that’s what guys who wore them did, they gave instructions. I never had another pair of boots after that for close to twenty years, plenty of snowboard boots, but nothing rugged or honorable. My father, he had boots, still has them. The kind of boots that have seen more sawdust, leaves raked, logs cut, and driveways plowed outside of his working hours than most men do in a year. I envied those boots, and the grit he worked into them. He had another pair, still has those, too. They are a pair of L.L. Bean boots, had them so long that when the soles wore out, the company replaced the rubber and kept the leather because he’d worked them in so well. I finally picked up a pair of Bean Boots a few years back, then some hiking boots, and finally picked up a pair of Clark’s Desert Boots. I learned about Bruce Chatwin, became entrenched in the places he exposed himself to, read most of his work - he often referenced his Desert Boots. Worn while poring over 12th century pieces of the Qur’an, discovering the history of Patagonia alongside gauchos, and questioning the urge of mankind to be nomadic, Chatwin found something made well, and wore it better. Like my father, I try to take care of them, give them a cleaning once a month, re-oil them, take pride in where they’ve taken me, weary-eyed, and half-asleep. I teach 7th Grade English in a small town outside of Boston now, wearing those boots almost every day. My instruction boots.