Tuesday, November 30, 2010


A couple weeks ago, I got an email from Matt. He had written back in 2007 or 2008 offering to lend me some shoes, and was wondering if the In Your Shoes project was still active. It really hasn't been. It's been a while since I've worn shoes that aren't my own. For this reason I didn't reply right away...I wasn't sure if maybe the project was finished.

In the end, I figured that if someone 2 500 miles away is offering to lend me their shoes it doesn't make too much sense to say 'no.' So while I haven't resolved for myself where the project stands, I am up for experimenting.

Matt kindly posted his shoes to my house. (There was a bit of a kerfuffle with UPS. As it turns out, there often are brokerage fees associated with crossing the border that neither of us anticipated...I mention it just as an FYI, although maybe it's common knowledge?) The shoes arrived Friday evening.

Matt sent me his Doc Martens. For some reason, I was anticipating the 8-hole variety, but as it turned out, his aren't the kind that I think about in relationship to high school. They are 4-hole docs, light brown, and could pass as business-type shoes.

I tried them on Friday evening to see if I would be able to wear them next day. I was a bit concerned that it might not work, as I've been doing a lot of walking ever since my bike was stolen this summer. I was going to a volunteer training session with Hospice Toronto on Saturday and was intending to walk the 5km or so there because of previous frustrating public transit experiences. Matt had explained to me that one of the shoes had no laces, and that I shouldn't bother to put new ones in. The right shoelace recently got caught in his bicycle gears, causing him to crash. It damaged the shoe in such a way that every lace he's put in since breaks. He had suggested using cheap insoles to make sure the shoes stay on. For some reason, it occurred to me that elastic bands might work. And since we have an abundant supply in our kitchen drawer, and they seemed to be effective, I decided to go that route.

A bit more about the shoes... Matt has had them for a couple of years, and says they've been everywhere with him: at work where he creates and prints thousands of large size maps of the
pacific northwest, on hikes, road trips and bike rides. Apparently they are also the most comfortable shoes he's ever had.

I have to agree that they are super super comfortable. I don't know if its the air cushioned sole thing, or what, but they have a bit of a bouncy (cushioned?) feel, and are pretty warm, too. Which was great, because Saturday was pretty darn cold.

I put Matt's shoes on as soon as I got up on Saturday morning. The mornings have been pretty chilly, especially in our kitchen, so they came in handy. I went about my morning routine and left the house relatively early. It was just beginning to snow and I am a wimp when it comes to winter. I wore long johns (tops and bottoms), knee socks, wool socks, jeans, a long sleeve shirt, a short sleeved shirt, a wool sweater, a blazer, a coat, a hat, mitts, and a scarf. It was perfect for walking...a little less perfect for a day inside a high rise, as it turned out, but ah well. It was interesting to wear another person's shoes again. It was at once strange and familiar in a certain way. Wearing shoes that are too big for me often feels like I'm kind of schlepping about...like when I'd throw on a pair of my parent's shoes to quickly run outside, or wear ill-fitting slippers in the house. The heels of Matt's shoes dragged a bit on the ground, which made me worry about further wear on the soles. They also did that snapping back thing, hitting my heels each time I stepped. I had to concentrate for a bit to make sure that I wasn't gripping with the balls of my feet (I've been told that that is an economic nightmare), but it all seemed to be working out alright.

The streetcar decided to come when I was about 20 minutes into my trek and close to a stop, so I decided to take it. From downtown I walked south to the lake where the training was. Since I was a bit early, I made a phone call from the payphone before going up.

I found the conference room we were in and settled in. I was shocked to look out the window and see a veritable snow flurry. I'd call it a storm, but it was so short-lived that that just doesn't seem appropriate. At any rate, all we could see was white, however briefly. I had to smile thinking that it was as if Matt's shoes had brought the winter weather with them all the way from Washington.

The training was session number 8 of 8, and the morning's topic was communication. The presenter was fabulous. I think that it's the sort of topic that is easy to approach with an "I've heard it all before" kind of attitude, but I was happy that I was able to be attentive. Since we were talking about the subject in the context of hospice and palliative care, the topic of emotional boundaries and empathy, compassion and even clairsentience came up. Funnily enough, someone even used the phrase, "put yourself in someone else's shoes" and "I wear my heart on my sleeve." The conversation was interesting, and touched on some of the issues related to my ambivalence around the In Your Shoes project. People are generally disappointed when I insist that the goal of the project isn't to understand another person, or to gain insight into their life. It seems problematic to insist that it's possible to understand something as complex as another person's subjectivity. I prefer to approach it as an experiment. As more of a question than an answer.

I was aware of Matt's shoes on my feet throughout the day, as I often tripped when I went to get up, or saw the elastic bands and wondered why no one said anything. I wondered how much that had to do with being in the city. It seems that in the context of so much diversity it's perhaps harder to look out of place. Or maybe there is just so much low level out-of-placeness that it is accepted as a category in its own right. But I wonder how much it has to do with this city in particular--in St Louis, for example, it's been my experience that total strangers are far more likely to strike up conversations. Not to mention call each other "sugar" or "honey" or "babe" or whatever.

In the afternoon there was a panel of seasoned volunteers who shared some of their experiences and answered questions, which was really helpful. There was also a graduation complete with certificates and photographs. It was a good day. And a long one. I was happy to get outside when it was over, and to be walking west as the sun set. I decided that I would stop at my studio on the way home. I began renting the space just recently, and on Friday night my mom had asked me if I had been spending much time there. The sad truth is that it has mostly been a storage facility for the last few weeks. (To be fair, I've only been back in the city for a few weeks. And I've been spending that time getting settled into a new house and looking for more work...which seems more important than art at the moment.) So I resolved to spend some time there after the training, to at least get a few things unpacked so that I can get some work done the next time I go.

Less than 3 blocks into my walk 2 of the 3 elastic bands holding Matt's right shoe on my foot broke. The result was a slightly uneven gait. The right shoe dragged a little more on the ground, and gave my heel a pretty decent thwack each time it snapped back. Somehow the 3rd elastic hung in there. I hadn't thought to bring any extra with me.

On my way I passed Old Fort York and the Inglis sign with it's endless aphorisms that kept me awake when I was 8 years old and sleeping over with my brownie troupe. (This can only remind of the hard tack biscuit they gave each of us, and the one that lived in my red toy bin for years and is likely still intact somewhere.) On the other side of the bridge were about 17 cranes, which reminded me of the Crane Dance at Toronto's 2009 Nuit Blanche that I did not get to see but would have liked to.

I eventually made it to the studio and climbed the 4 flights of slightly dodgy stairs. I unpacked and organized some stuff, which felt pretty good. Heading back down the stairs was much more dodgy, as my feet kept wanting to step right out of Matt's shoes, but I made it eventually.

At home I realized that I had quite the headache brewing, and since food didn't help, I went and lay down on my floor for a little while. When I felt better, I had some dinner. I knit and talked with David until he had to fall asleep. I gave my dad a call, who seemed to be concerned about the mundane nature of my Saturday night, but I was pretty thrilled to be in bed around 10pm.

Matt's shoes are very comfortable. And they seem to fit the context of the city well, irregardless of the elastic bands. Wearing them throughout the day, with no one seeming to take notice, I felt like I was holding a secret. I also noticed the familiar concern that I wasn't doing justice to Matt's generosity in sending his shoes my way by simply going about my day as I would if his docs hadn't arrived on my doorstep. While I was walking, thinking about time and space I couldn't help but think of part of a piece I wrote and performed at A Whole New Ball Game, the launch of ANAL, by One Thousand and One Nights while I was in Banff:

Have I told you that sometimes I imagine that our bodies are connected by strings in all the places that we hinge so that when I lift my right arm in greeting, for instance, somewhere beneath your consciousness you are aware of a barely perceptible tug skyward?


The strings are red, by the way. And can elongate as necessary.

I think that there is something compelling about linking on person's day with anothers', however mundane. And even if that link is formed and remains solely on a material level, I think there's a bit of magic in it. At least, that's what I prefer to believe.
Thank you, Matt's shoes, for reminding me about that.

Thursday, November 6, 2008


Mary contacted me curious to see what it would be like to lend me a pair of her shoes, and write about the experience. I dropped by her office in early November to pick them up. She was in a meeting, but the shoes were waiting for me in a clear green plastic bag with an attached sticky note with my name. Mary was kind enough to step out and chat with me a bit about her shoes before I went on my way.

I was excited to learn that the shoes Mary chose to lend me at one time belonged to her sister. The exciting part about that is that her sister happens to live in St. Louis, Missouri, where I have a lot of family. Mary herself is also an American citizen, and I had intended on wearing her shoes on November 4th, the date of the U.S. election, for which I had an interesting party/art project planned.

Mary's sister, Judy, purchased these shoes because she thought they'd be good shoes to work in. She works for Anheiser-Bush, and is on her feet all day. Judy found the shoes too tight, and so she gave them to Mary, thinking that Mary or one of Mary's daughters would be able to use them. Mary told me that her kids think that the shoes are ugly, but that she likes them: they are comfortable, they are black and therefore go with most anything, and they are overall pretty practical shoes. Mary explained how she considers the shoes to be Judy's, but that Judy considers them to belong to Mary. After reading the posting on Berndt's shoes, Mary was curious to lend me shoes whos ownership was somewhat ambiguous.

Mary/Judy's shoes are sneaker-type Asics shoes. They seem to be black suede with white plastic detailing and white laces. When I put the shoes on I noticed how elasticy they were (the tounge is elasticized along the sides where it attaches to the rest of the shoe). They were a little big, but my feet didn't slide in them. At first I couldn't help but notice how low the arch of the shoe felt. I was actually worried that the shoes might be uncomfortable for this reason, but I soon adjusted to it. I also somehow was shocked each time I looked down to see the shoes on my feet. I had dressed in red, white and blue for the occasion of the election, as well as a performace that was planned for a class that afternoon, and had I been wearing my own shoes, my red sneakers would have been on my feet. I kept unconsciously expecting to see them there.

(I was just thinking now about how I half-expected people to ask me whose shoes I was wearing that day, but nobody did. This project has become more occasional of late, and I guess people no longer expect me to see me wearing shoes that aren't my own. Some small part of me was disappointed that no one asked me. It was interesting.)

I had a full day. The morning was spent preparing for the election night event. Weeks earlier my grandmother had mailed me a jell-o mold of the continental United States (minus Alaska). I knew that I needed to do some sort of project with it, but it took me awhile to realize what that was. With the upcoming election, it seemed to make sense to incorporate a jello-o USA or two into election day, and it occurred to me to do the following: I made one red (strawberry and raspberry) jell-o version of the USA, and one blue (mixed berry) version of the USA. The red jell-o represented the Republicans, and the blue, the Democrats. I planned a party to watch the election coverage, and when the Republicans won a state, we ate the blue version of that state, and vice versa when the Democrats won a state. This left behind a record of the election results in the form of a jell-o map of the USA.

I'd spent the past few days in and out of the grocery store buying blue and red jell-o. In the morning I decided that it was an oversite and a mistake to not somehow represent Hawaii and Alaska, so I made one more trip to No Frills. I made Hawaii and Alaska x 2 (definitely not to scale), and proceeded to check on the Republicans (the red jell-o map), which weren't doing so well the day before. It turned out that they were doing even less well, and so I biked back to No Frills for three more packages of red jell-o. I made a smaller (shallower) version of the Republicans and hoped that it would set in time.

I went to the studio to work on a drawing of the jell-o map that we could colour in throughout the evening to help record the election results and our consumption of jell-o USAs. Then I loaded up my bicycle with mugs for another art project, and hauled it all over to the art building. Once there I realized that the performance we'd planned for that afternoon would have to take another form: right across from the space that we'd planned on having "High Tea" the annual halocaust memorial reading was taking place. It wouldn't have been appropriate to for our project to be anywhere nearby. So we made some last minute changes and had High Tea on Johnston Green (a field on the North side of campus).

I collaborated on High Tea with my fellow classmates Karen Hawes and Allison Zuk. It was originally a performance documented in the form of a video for installation. Karen and I had tea in various high places: in a tree, an elevator, on a hill, at the top of jumps on mini-trampolines, on a rooftop, at the top row of stadium bleachers, and on scaffolding at a construction site (I should note that we dressed appropriately for each occasion, and consumed tea that somehow seemed to fit the situation). We thought it would be nice to include the class in another incarnation of the project. We gathered as many ladders we could find, and enjoyed tea and cookies together while sitting on ladders in the middle of a field. (Did I mention that the weather happened to be spectacular? It was sunny and warm, and we didn't even need jackets! A photographer from the local paper was taking pictures of students wearing shorts and sunbathing on Johnston Green, and came a snapped some photos of the High Tea.) We went back to class, had a guest speaker--Dean Baldwin--who made us pina coladas that we drank out of coconuts. We showed our video, and critiqued it and another project.

After class I had an hour and a half before an art history lecture. I decorated the classroom with streamers and got ready for the election night party. I had dinner and went to class. And after that, the party.

I have to say that I was so relieved by the election results that I wasn't sure what to do with myself. I have to admit that I've lost faith in the electoral process, and didn't fully trust that Obama would win, despite overwhelming odds in his favour. The significance, symbollic and otherwise, of his victory is so great that at the end of the evening I felt quite lost. I think that a number of people here are able to approach the whole situation lightheartedly or even with a certain amount of dismissiveness. There are some things, however, that I am just not willing to take lightly. After cleaning up I had a short cry, just because what I wanted so badly, yet hadn't let myself believe was possible, seemed to have happened after all.

Some of us made plans to go out to the Albion afterwards, but when I arrived on my bike, it turned out to be closed. After some difficulty deciding what to do next, we dispersed. I walked partway home with Margaret, who spent part of her childhood in the states. She was also relieved by the events of the evening, and struck by the implications of such a turn of events. It was more than helpful to talk to her.

As I was watching the election coverage, I couldn't help but think about Judy, and wonder what she was doing that night. Mary and her family, like mine, are Democrat supporters, in a state that is traditionally Republican. I wonder if she felt a similar anxiety, and if it was followed by bewilderment or relief or joy, or some combination of the above. Did she cry? Did Mary? I wonder how many people in the world shed tears in front of televisions, or next to radios that evening, and if the tears could somehow be collected, how much volume that would take up, and where we would keep them.

Mary/Judy's shoes are comfortable and versitile. My day in them was quite full, and involved a whole range of activities, experiences and emotions. It seemed so brilliantly appropriate that I should wear on that day the shoes of someone that not only spends most of the day busy and on her feet, but lives in the United States. In St. Louis, no less--not far from so many of my own loved ones and memories. In the hustle and bustle, like always, it seems, I eventually forgot the unusual-ness of Mary/Judy's shoes on my feet. But they were there, throughout the stream of a day that included oddly terrific weather and the (in my opinion) terrifically terrific occasion of the election of Barack Obama.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

sandals at last

I took this picture post-rolling down a step hill, and pre-swimming and and trail-exploring.
My feet are pretty happy to be enjoying the last few sweet days of summer in sandals. (Summer, for me, ends with back to school time, which is somehow here already.)

I began my quest for sandals last summer, but never found any. Instead I wore an old pair that had holes in the bottom. The holes got bigger, and eventually I threw them away. This summer I was having such a hard time finding sensible yet lovely sandals that weren't over $100 that I decided I would just wear a pair of sandals that I found at my parent's house. I got them when I was somewhere between 13 and 15 years old, and they were really well worn, but relatively functional still. After a day on my feet at the art camp I was teaching at, I had to trash that idea. My back was totally achy and awful. The same thing happened when I wore another pair of nearly done for (and totally arch-less) sandals that had been my aunt's. So I began to take the sandal hunt slightly more seriously.

My main predicament with things like proper sandals and dish drying racks and home internet service, is that while very helpful and pleasant, they aren't necessary enough to encourage me to want to spend the energy it takes to make them a part of my life. With enough time (which is (perhaps) surprisingly little), I can adapt to living without these kinds of things. So I've been wearing closed shoes in the summer, and leaving dishes to dry in a plastic tray and seeking out free wireless around town.

But finally I decided to actually take the plunge and buy this pair of sandals. Part of the reason it took so long to do just that is that proper shoes are a bit of an investment. I wanted to try a few different kinds of sandals on first. I am still not sure if I got the "right" or "best" pair of sandals for me. In the end it was a bit of a compromise. I figured that it was worth just going for something that was good enough instead of trying to go on any more far flung excursions.

So I bought them from a store in downtown Guelph, just blocks from where I live. I'd been in the store once in the middle of the summer and tried them on. Waiting so long to buy them was a bit of a gamble, but when I went in the other week, I ended up getting the last pair. They happened to be just my size (actually one size too big, but that doesn't seem to be a problem). They also happened to be less than half their original price, which was a good thing.

I had a bit of a hard time the first few days I wore them. I didn't love them like I would like to love my shoes. They aren't red or especially cheerful or unusual. They don't slip on (my ideal sandals would do just that...at some points my back has been so painful that I have depended on other people to do up my shoes for me). And while they are sensible (i.e. supportive) and not overwhelming sensible (i.e. clunky) they gave me blisters. Blisters!
Blisters are not any fun.

I was talking to my dad. He frequently suffers from what he has come to term "buyer's remorse." This is something that I also know well. He commiserated with me. Apparently he has had lots of bad luck with sandals. It was nice to talk to someone who understood. I asked if he had any suggestions. "Well, you know what the cowboys do."
I didn't.
"When they get a new pair of leather boots, they fill them up with warm water, and then wear them."
Hmmm...puzzled (I was picturing cowboys and their boots and bathtubs), I asked if they dumped out the water first.
"Well, aislinn, as you know, the water would be displaced by their feet."
My dad is a scientist.

This so-called "cowboy technique" sounded like a bad idea to me. I couldn't imagine my sandals being any more comfortable wet. In fact it seemed to me like that situation would be a whole lot worse (blisters + wet sandals = no more blisters? This seems like a clearly imbalanced equation).

I kind of dismissed it, and wore band aids. But over one lunch break, I was enticed by the thought of cooling off a little and went for a walk in the Elora gorge. I didn't know it, but lots of people do just that, and there are stone steps that lead down to the river for just that purpose. I wore my sandals, since it was super rocky and slippery. The gorge was gorgeous (no pun intended), and the water clear and cold. The rest of the day my feet were cool and comfortable, and ever since then I haven't had any blister problems.
Go figure.

So anyhow, I've had a few days off before classes begin again. I'm trying to do summer-y things so that I can't complain about the season passing me by. I've canned peaches in these sandals (sticky and slightly dangerous), biked to swimming holes (yay for swimming!), gone for circuitous walks (surprisingly challenging), eaten gelato in the middle of the Yonge and Dundas scramble (lemon! raspberry!...super yummy), picked tomatoes (they taste like summer) and danced in my living room (highly recommended any time of year).

The shoes are beginning to seem more natural, and less like alien parasites on my feet. I have been thinking about what it means to commit myself to a pair of shoes, to chose them and to put myself in them each day. And what it means more generally to wear one's own shoes. I feel like I have more to say about this, but it's still not fully formulated in my head. And this post is long enough as it is.
So it will have to wait.

Happy September, all! I hope your feet are enjoying this late-summer sandal weather, too. And if they're not, consider doing what the cowboys do...

Sunday, August 24, 2008

shoes in the news

Here's the story that ran in the Guelph Tribune the other week, and a picture with Mike's shoes on my feet.
Just for the record, I happened to be wearing safety shorts under that dress.
It turned out to be a wise choice.

She's Walking Miles in Someone Else's Shoes
By Dave Bowden
Arts & Entertainment
Aug 15, 2008

Imagine wearing shoes that don't fit, shoes so old they're nearly falling apart, shoes that are meant for the opposite sex. Now imagine spending a day in them.

As part art project, part social experiment, Aislinn Thomas decided last November that she'd try taking the phrase "put yourself in someone else's shoes" literally.

Since then, the University of Guelph art student has borrowed shoes from friends, family members and complete strangers, wearing them for a day (or as long as is comfortable) in an attempt to learn about herself and the people around her. While she admitted that it's difficult to know someone by just wearing their shoes, she said she's surprised by how much she's learned since she began.

"I thought (the project) would be . . . doomed because I didn't think there was any way that I could get that kind of a sense of a person from just wearing their shoes," she said. "And I don't (get that sense), necessarily, but I have learned a lot of other things." For instance, Thomas said she's been touched by the generosity people have shown when she explains the project.

"Even strangers have been really generous with me, because shoes are kind of an intimate thing in a way," she said. "Strangers on the street, even in winter - in blowing snow - will take their shoes off and exchange shoes with me."

Of course, not everyone has been so forthcoming. When she first conceived of the notion and pitched it to friends, Thomas said reactions varied.

"The first person I asked seemed a bit hesitant," she recalled. "Some people are really excited about the idea right away. Other people warm up to it."

Thomas established a blog, "In Your Shoes," to share the stories associated with the shoes with a broader audience. One man was so taken with the idea that he actually mailed her his shoes all the way from Pennsylvania. She said she's been surprised and humbled by the response and attention her project has garnered.

"People lend me shoes that have been all over the world, or have seen them through really trying experiences," she said. "(And) I'm thinking, I'm riding my bicycle, is this enough? Am I doing these shoes justice?"

Thomas estimates that she's borrowed about 50 pairs of shoes since she started in November. She has no end in sight for the project, choosing instead to stop "when it sort of comes to its natural conclusion." For now, she said she's not done experimenting.

"I'd like to keep going with it, because I feel like there's still stuff I can learn from it."

To read the stories Thomas has gathered, visit her blog at http://adayinyourshoes.blogspot.com.

(You can also read this story at: http://www.guelphtribune.ca/news/article/139845)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


Not long ago, a friend of mine told me that I had to ask Mike about his shoes. I happened to see him a few days later at a cafe, and he was kind enough to let me pester him with questions. Mike has been suffering from serious back pain for some time. He told me about his sneakers. The day that he bought them, he wore them to walk over to the pharmacy to pick up more painkillers. In that short amount of time, his back pain was reduced by 50% (!!).

So I was inaugurated into the world of terms like "pronation" and "supination," and bright white sneakers. Mike explained to me how running shoes are meant to keep ones weight evenly distributed, and correct the habits that an individual may have (rolling in or out, for example). He showed me a website of athletic shoes. I had no idea that sneakers were so specific. The pair that he bought were "neutral" shoes, that keep him centred in the shoe, and help his tendency of rolling towards the outside of his shoe. He urged me to try a pair. I think that he could sense my hesitation and said, "you could always paint them."

I did end up trying out a bunch of running shoes one rainy evening at a store downtown. The woman there was really helpful, and okay with the fact that I had no idea if I actually wanted to invest in a pair. I must have tried at least 5 different kinds. She told me that when walking, my weight is evenly distributed, so it's not rolling that's causing or prolonging any back pain. The shoes felt strange on my feet. Like whole other worlds.

Anyhow, that was a whole bunch of preamble. The upshot of the whole situation is that I thought it was about time to put myself in another person's shoes again. And I thought it might be a good idea to ask Mike if he was willing to lend me a pair of his.
He was.

Of course Mike didn't lend me his miracle sneakers--he needs those on his own feet each day. But this pair of shoes came to mind as a pair that I might find comfortable. He described the as "deck shoes," which is a term that was unfamiliar to me. Since then I've heard it a few times (as a sidetrack, I have also been seeing a lot of desert boots these days, which I haven't seen in about 17 years...). Mike told me that he got these shoes, which are light brown leather Aldos, at a factory outlet store in Quebec. He said that they were pretty comfortable shoes, and would likely stay on my feet despite their large size. He kindly brought them into work, where I picked them up from him the next day.

That week I was working mornings in Elora. I decided it was unwise to wear Mike's shoes to work. The previous day a little girl had (accidentally) dropped her paint palette on my feet. My shoes were covered in yellow paint, which happened to be washable, but still not something I wanted to risk subjecting someone else's shoes to. The other reason that I decided to wear them for just half a day, was that they were difficult for me to walk in. Although they have laces, even when tied as tightly as possible the shoes still felt like they were at risk of falling off. I had to do that ball of foot kind of grab with each step, which was fine for a little while, but eventually didn't feel like a helpful thing to be doing.

So I wore Mike's shoes for an afternoon and evening. I biked with them to the library and bank (it was funny to see the length of them sticking out from my bike pedals as I did so). I met with Dave Bowden, a reporter at the Guelph Tribune. I tried hard to smile comfortably as he took photos for the article he was working on. I went to an appointment, and noticed that there was a receipt in the bottom of one shoe. It was for cantaloupe. I worked on a video briefly at the school, made dinner, and walked with a friend of mine to an art opening downtown. On the way I tripped at least 3 times, and noticed for the first time ever that the Curry in a Hurry restaurant at the bottom of the hill is in a house that is only half a house.

I saw some really great paintings and reconnected with some friends. We wandered back home, and my pal showed me photos from her trip to Costa Rica. We pined for distant travels, and I walked home and went to bed. Mike's shoes stayed at the bottom of the stairs with all the others as I slept.

Mike was right--his shoes were comfy. I enjoyed how big and roomy they were on my feet. They just didn't want to stay on there, and continually conspired to trip me. In the end I decided not to wear them for an entire day because it didn't seem like the best idea for my back. Which is interesting, because that's the same reason that Mike opts to wear different shoes these days as well.

Mike's shoes are comfortable. They are soft and floppy and kind of squishy on the inside. They are comfortable, and yet not what he choses to wear these days. And not the best thing for me to be wearing, either, although neither of us predicted that. Mike's shoes made me think about what it means to outgrow ones own shoes, to own shoes that are no longer helpful. This is somewhere where the phrase ("put yourself in his/her shoes" ) may fall short. What happens when someone's shoes don't support them very well? Can they still be reflective of that person, their life, and their perspective? I'm not sure that there is an answer. But it's interesting to think about.