What Shoe are You?
Tuesday, May 27, 2008

What shoe are you? Are you a hiking boot, an espadrille, or a stiletto? Are you a sneaker or a riding boot? Is your shoe a certain color—maybe red? Or is it a particular brand? Or perhaps you’re a combination shoe, or an all-of-the-above, plus more shoe? An I-want-every-shoe, shoe?

I’m like that last one--with bags. And have to practice the virtue of self control often.

I live in Southern California, and I’m a sandal. I have six pair: one dressy, three beachy, one strappy and Greek, and one pair built for walking. I wear sandals just about every day. With skirts, with jeans, on the way to the gym, to church, and out to dinner. The only worthy exception to my sandal is saved for those truly wet and chilly days. Days when I sip tea in the afternoons, and dream of writing longer than I have time for, days when I pester my husband till he lights a fire in the grate. On those days, those infrequent days in my part of the world, I long for wool socks—and wool socks don’t do well in sandals. So I pull out and polish a pair of leather boots from the right hand side of my sandal pile, and they clomp me around town, keeping my toesies warm and dry.

I was thinking about my life with sandals just the other day when I realized that on my upcoming trip to Northern England and Scotland, the sandals will have to hibernate inside my bag until we arrive in Rome. Most likely my toesies will be having wool-longing fits, and unfortunately, those boots I have ain’t made for long days of walking.

I’m not a shopper. Even though bag shopping might get me excited, we don’t have the money or the space for purses galore, so what’s the point? So, buying a new pair of shoes became yet another chore on my to-do list. I put it at the bottom, where I tend to place those errands that are easily carried from one list to the other. Copied over and over again for days until the days become weeks, and I finally get so irritated with myself that I make a proclamation of sorts to my husband: \"I need you to watch the baby—I’m going to buy a pair of shoes!\" I say this, as if not wearing sandals for a ten-day period of time in England is truly torture...

Heading straight to a small local shoe store that I had been avoiding, I spend half an hour walking in circles, in my sandals, around the store. There, with the good help of Boris, I find a pair of good leather walking shoes that will play double duty with both pant and skirt. The deed was done. I got out my list and made a bold slash through my cryptic, \"buy shoes.\"

Ah, but then I realize upon my return, as I try on my various traveling clothes, that, gasp!, shopping is once again imminent... I no longer own the right socks, to accompany the shoes with pants. I no longer own stockings, to accompany the shoes with skirts. I am living in a very small shoe world, indeed.

So, being a sandal, what else might that say about me? If my shoe world has become so narrow, if I am living without socks and stockings, what else about me has been squeezed as well? And is this a good thing—to be so specialized? Does it show a becoming—a honing--of who I’m really meant to be—or does it simply reveal a stubborn nature that sticks to me despite my age. I really have no answers to these (seemingly!) profound questions, and maybe this upcoming trip to places where sandals are only brief summer dreams will help answer them for me. Maybe this new adventure will open up worlds bigger than my feet—maybe these new shoes will take me places that sandals simply are not able to enter.

In any case, if I’m a sandal, a silly sandal who loves to ramble on about anything including feet, I’d still love to know what shoe you’ve come to be... Write to me and we’ll talk shoes. Anything’s better than shopping for them!