It’s perhaps an understatement to say that my favorite pair of shoes—a black toe-loop pair of Birkenstocks sandals—is well-loved. Their rubbery bottoms, once textured with prominent zig zags, now glide precariously under each step. Plus, thanks to the wonky gait I inherited from my dad, the outer edge of each heel is ground down an inch or two below the rest of the sole. Black crumbles line the synapse between cork and leather, neighbored by creases that could put the Utah salt flats to shame.
Whether it’s 80 degrees or just barely breaking 40, it’s Birkenstocks weather to me. They’re my go-to shoe for a casual T-shirt and shorts look, and a trusty fallback when the maybe-I-should-actually-wear-one-of-those-dresses-I-paid-for mindset comes out to play.
It hasn’t always been this way, though. In middle school, I—like so many suburban American pre-teens—fell victim to the regrettable trend of Sperry Topsiders. My ankles have yet to recover from the daily cycle of blistering and bleeding that those godforsaken shoes subjected me to. But, in high school, once I discovered the bliss of a form-fitting sole and adjustable straps, I never dared look back. Ankles and confidence born anew, I now fully consider myself a Birkenstocks girl.
In this publication of Iris, our writers detail what changed their lives. While life-altering moments are impactful in their own right, this edition celebrates the small things. From peanut butter to pink walls, it’s the tiny moments that shape our identities and perceptions of the world.
Aspiring to one day have a minivan, bulk-purchasing family of her own, Juliana Callen tells us, Costco Changed My Life. In Minecraft: The Game That Changed My Life, Lexi Toufas explains how Minecraft is a source of stress relief in her daily routine, a “time capsule” that transports her back to carefree times. As Chloe Lyda gushes, Taylor Swift’s Lexicon Changed My Life, she tunes readers into the lyrics that helped her process her emotions over an “especially burdensome” year.
Sadie Randall colors herself emboldened in The Four Pink Walls That Changed My Life. After a journey of self-discovery that began with the stroke of a brush, Sadie concludes: “It turns out that painting a wall a new color gave me a new sense of self.” Finally, Lulu Jastaniah presents A Brief History of Peanut Butter (And How It Changed My Life), in which instructions from a “bossy jar of peanut butter” lead to grateful reflection.
While historians mark time as either B.C.E. or C.E., I choose to divide my life into two distinct eras: B.B. (Before Birkenstocks) and A.B. (After Birkenstocks). In this edition, we at Iris take a microscope to our identities. We disassemble the nature, dissect the nurture, and among the fossils of our being, memorialize the tiny moments that changed our lives. How will your eras be defined?