Tag Archiv: shoes

Shoes

picture compliments of morguefile.com

picture compliments of morguefile.com

I have been pondering shoes. I got into a conversation with someone a little while ago about photographing shoes instead of faces. Now I keep seeing shoes.

My feet are familiar with four sets.

  1. Sneakers. Black with pink Nike check. They impressed me on my sister-in-law’s feet a few years ago. She said it was okay to buy the same pair.
  2. Black shoes. I wear these anytime it is cold and can’t wear sneakers. They have a sturdy rubber sole and could have been worn by my grandmother, ergo, their style is timeless.
  3. Brown fancy sandals (by fancy I mean not a birkentock):  1/4 flat sole. Three strands of leather. Worn when it is too hot for the black shoes
  4. Rubber boots (also black). The gold standard of farm footwear.

 

I checked and found the following buried in my closet. Writing about them may push their expiry date.

  1. Brown loafers (Too big. Fall off if I don’t walk carefully.)
  2. Blue sneakers (Too big. Kept for sentimental reasons)
  3. High tops (Too small. Kept because I don’t like the idea of not owning good basketball shoes.)
  4. Old black shoes (recently revived by shoe polish they strongly resemble current black shoes.)
  5. Ugliest pair of brown sandals ever (worn only when I can think of no other ways to punish myself.)
  6. Blue heavy duty sandals (quite ripped and discolored. worn if there is water within a mile and I can pretend they are just my water shoes)

 

I probably don’t have to spell out the fact that my life has not involved a great deal of interest in shoes. Now that I am noticing them, shoes everywhere are catching me off guard.

Take B’s shoes, for instance. Each pair I have noticed are woefully unprepared for fight or flight and surprisingly not the least bit concerned about it. They look smart – as in intelligent. Can a shoe do this or am I projecting? I would not describe B as someone who sashays across a room. Her shoes, on the other hand, well, B’s shoes are unapologetically having a good time. My shoes look at each other sideways. Are they supposed to be having fun?

RA would no more wear a shoe devoid of style than one would chop off a toe. It isn’t done. But style, I learned, is not enough. There is a running shoe for actually jogging and a different one entirely for hiking in the park. From this I infer there to be shoes made for church but not for weddings and vice versa. Could there be shoes for dinner dates and movies? Concerts and parties? My black shoes pretend not to be curious.

J’s shoes are stylish but understated. Always sharp and classy, one can imagine them being gracious, even compassionate towards the serviceable shoe. All my shoes appreciate the vote of confidence.

C loves the cute shoe. C sees particular shoes in relation to specific situations, but unlike RA (whose primary concern is the correct choice) C’s shoes are about celebration. If they could sing or dance, C’s shoes would do the cha cha.   Celebrate with me, they say. Life is good . . .  and even when it’s not, you’ll feel better looking at me!   None of my shoes know how to respond to this. What self respecting shoe would want to be looked at?

One day the sun comes up and moves across the sky just like the day before. The next day, I unwittingly discover an alternate world about five feet below my line of vision. Unbeknownst to me, it has co-existed all around me for years. My feet are asking questions. My shoes are not sure what to expect.

 

On Death and Love

 

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November is a traditional time for remembering those who have died. Churches remember. Countries remember. As if on cue, entire northern climates cycle from life to death or dormancy.

On my walks I often see an older couple. They tend a grave with great care. Every day of the year, in snow or rain, hot or cold, they go to the grave. There is a bench, a bird feeder, and little lamps always burning. In winter, they keep a path shovelled to the grave. All kinds of animals come year round. Despite the location, it is a very lively place. At first I tried to figure what to make of it. Then I decided it wasn’t mine to worry about one way of the other. They’re just a part of the landscape now. I wave. They wave back. I keep the dog away from their spot.

Two years ago my brother was visiting with his kids. Something got it into our heads to visit my mother’s grave. We took the kids, all eight of them, with toothbrushes, a bucket and some soap, to tidy up the grave stone. It wasn’t morbid, it was pleasant. She would have loved them chattering and curious.

My mother was the first person I loved  who died. The first person I knew was the piano player from our church. Her name was Lois Olsen and we kept her dog while she was sick. She was as old as the hills. I was curious about the funeral, but hanging around a church with a dead body inside was too scary for me. My brother and I stayed at home. Watched from the upstairs window as the hearse drove up and her casket was taken into the church. Staring at a box that had the actual body of someone I had seen play a piano was somber and sad and fascinating.

When my mother died, I had the hardest time getting rid of her shoes. They were the wrong size for me, but all I could think was: when you’re dead, your family doesn’t want your shoes. It was a few years before I could bring myself to part with them.

I miss my mother. I grieve her loss. But much harder for me is to love her, not as a memory of how I did love her, but as a verb, now, in the present tense. To love her now is to say that just beyond my reach, she is still as real as I am. That, while neither of us can bridge the gulf between us, love can. In fact, it already has.

We love now as best we can across the chasm. Mothers. Friends. Babies not yet born. With tiny faith, our love claims: O death, where is thy sting?

And then someday –