Thursday, November 29, 2007


I picked up Kate's shoes on Wednesday evening--she brought them with her to the art studio. She told me that I would know which ones Hannah (her young daughter) picked out. Kate is the first person who has lent me more than one pair of shoes. In fact, she brought me three. I only ended up wearing two of them. One is a pair of rubber boots that go up until just below my knee. The other is a pair of backless silver slippers with red satin insides, and silver beads and jewels sewn on the outside. This is the pair Hannah chose.

(This tiny dried rose came in the bag with Hannah's choice of shoes. I was happy to come across it.)

Kate told me that the pair she chose wasn't warm, but she thought I could use layers. When she first said this, I had yet to see the boots, and I found my brain hurting trying to imagine layering shoes. I didn't even consider that she might have meant socks (which I'm sure she did). Hannah's contribution didn't really take the weather into account, but they were great for inside the house. The other pair that Hannah picked are some more formal black shoes that have a bit of a heel, and elastic across the instep. I thought that if I went out in the evening I might wear this pair, but I didn't end up doing so. There was just so much snow.

So I wore two pairs of Kate's shoes.

When I woke up on Thursday morning I felt like I was going to be incoherent for the entire day. My head felt incredibly foggy. You're likely familiar with those mornings where every small task is suddenly a great feat, and any amount of effort is too much effort. I decided that maybe if I wore something incredibly bright, I might wake up at some point. Reva gave me this dress from her costume room, and I think it really helped. I actually found myself with a bunch of energy later in the day.

In the morning I did some last minute finagling with my project that was due later that morning. It came together in the end, which was a huge relief. I also tried to impose a bit of order in my very cluttered room. My feet slid about on the shiny satiny insides of Kate's slippers as I tidied things and packed my lunch. They were at once very practical, and incredibly not so. They were good at keeping my feet warm, and but they seemed almost to fancy to be eating breakfast or peeling carrots in.

I put on a mismatched pair of socks before putting on Kate's boots, grabbing my bag and heading out to catch the bus. I felt somehow cheerful and bold in Kate's boots. I think that I maybe have a thing for rubber boots that I wasn't entirely aware of.

Kate and I have the same size feet, so her boots didn't feel too big or too small. I mostly noticed rubber boot kinds of things--how there isn't much support inside them, the way they are molded to be one shape, and snap back to it as one walks in them, how the make me drawn to puddles (which were sadly scarce), and how my feet are a bit damp and have that particular rubber-like smell when they come out of them.

On the bus I saw a friend of my sisters--they went to nursery school together and used to play "Barbies and trucks" and had fights over whose father had been in more helicopters and / or boats. I only recognized him because Katie had shown me a recent photograph of him. Classes, computer work, and class. I noticed lying down on my stomach the awkwardness of the molded nature of rubber boots--usually I lie with the tops of my feet on the ground, but that didn't seem possible. (I should perhaps explain that I have been doing lots of lying on my stomach because sitting is so difficult for me right now. I happen to have very understanding profs, for which I am thankful.)

We had the rest of our critique, during which we also had some pot-luck snacking. It was great to see more of what other folks have been doing, and also great to have WALNUT CAKE! I realized that I haven't had any of this ever so tasty and delightful (and cute!) Korean dessert for about two years. Diane brought a box of them in from Toronto, and I felt like I'd been reunited with a forgotten treasure.

Throughout the day several classmates who had heard me present on Tuesday asked me if I was wearing my own shoes or someone else's.

When I told them that the boots weren't my own, they said, "I thought so." This struck me as interesting, because some of the shoes I've worn I have felt relatively at home in, and Kate's is one of them. I felt like I would like to have my own pair of rubber boots--they felt fun and kind of playful and attractive, and like something I could incorporate into my repertoire of things that I wear. Plus, we wear the same size shoe. So I wonder how it is that people could see that they obviously weren't mine when this wasn't so obvious to me. I suppose it's entirely possible that they were saying, "I thought so," to have something to say. Hmm...

Heading home, it was already dark. I was so surprised to find myself not only awake, but happy and with energy, and I wasn't quite sure what this was about. The night before was spent setting my alarm in 35 minute intervals while I attempted to convert files on my computer while also addressing my need for rest. Usually the results of inadequate sleep are disastrous for me (sore throat, colds, extreme fatigue, grumpiness, and general incoherence). But instead I was kind of bouncing along feeling bright and happy and not sure why. I decided to walk home from downtown. The snow was coming down at an impressive rate--great big flakes floating their way down to the ground. I found myself itching with delight. It all seemed so beautiful. I was glad for the extra pair of socks...rubber boots aren't too warm on their own.

I made dinner, and headed over to Tara's to return her socks and shoes. Kate's boots were adequate until I was about a block away from Tara's and I was certain that my toes would soon freeze. I ended up hanging out at Tara's for a time, warming up, chatting and seeing the great Christmas decorations Finn had made, and the stuffed rabbit Tara and Becca had made. Tara agreed that rubber boots can be attractive. This made me feel less alone in the world. I headed home and to bed.

Kate's boots are practical, and yet I found my experience of them to be overshadowed by a quality of fun, which seems a bit surprising given the ubiquity of black rubber boots. I felt really happy in them. Interestingly enough, yesterday Kate was telling me that she thinks of those boots as her happy boots, how she puts them on and feels energized, and like she wants to find every puddle. I thought this was pretty neat. Coincidence, perhaps...but lovely all the same. When Kate gave me her bag of shoes I found myself thinking about how many of us have more than one pair of shoes, and how different these pairs of shoes can be. Maybe to really put myself in other people's shoes I need to spend a day in at least 3 pairs of someones shoes to have a sense of the variety of experience that is contained in a life. Kate's slippers looked and felt different than her boots, and her heels looked and felt different than both. It made me think about how a person's choice of what pair of shoes to lend me, and how they come to that choice is really interesting. I also found myself wondering if there is some essential "Kate-ness" in each of her pairs of shoes, and if there is more in some than others. And if so, does that have to do with how often she wears them, or what she thinks about them, or the stories around them, or....? I also found myself thinking about how my experience of Kate is of someone who is generally quite energetic and enthusiastic and fun, and how interesting it was that I found a bit of that in myself when I put myself in her shoes on such a snowy day.

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