Tuesday, November 27, 2007
I picked up Tara's shoes from her house on Sunday night. She told me that I could have them on one condition: that if the shoes weren't to small or difficult to put on, that I wear them with the socks that she had in her hand. I said sure, and asked her why. She told me that the socks are soft and warm and that she wants me to be warm and cozy in her shoes. Such a lovely sentiment.
Tara was right about her socks--they are probably the comfiest socks I've ever worn. They are grey, and came folded in a proper sock bundle. The insides are full of little loops of fabric that account for the softness and warmth of the socks. On the instep they say, "wigwam" in red, which I am supposing is the brand name. My toes are very happy in Tara's socks.
This morning, as I was getting ready to leave, I took of Victoria's shoes, and put on Tara's socks and shoes. The shoes were actually very difficult for me to get on. I believe I've mentioned the back injury stuff that's been going on for me...this actually makes reaching my feet a bit of a challenge. So I found that the easiest way for me to wrestle with Tara's boots was to loosen the laces, and then lie down to try to wiggle my feet into them. This worked relatively well. As I tied them up, I could see little motes of dust puffing out from the laces. This made me smile.
Tara's boots are brown leather 8-hole doc martens. They are well worn--they have hardly any treads left, the laces are kind of falling apart, and there's a hole forming along the seam of the right shoe. They are also soft. Tara told me that her boots are 10 yrs old, that she bought them second hand for $12 at the Attic and wore them for several winters as winter boots, that she's never treated them other than with mud and sleet and snow, and that in them she's planted a few hundred trees and dug garden beds and kissed in the bushes. How lovely is that? Once my feet were successfully in Tara's shoes, the first thing I found myself thinking was how soft it was at the ends of the shoes where my toes touched the leather. It felt somehow a bit like home. But once I was standing I noticed that this at-homeness was threatened by the fact that Tara's shoes are on the verge of being impossibly small for my feet--my toes go right to the end of her boots. I found myself wishing, not for the first time in my life, that my second toe wasn't so long (I have the variety that sticks out past the big toe). Shucks. It also felt a bit like the tongues of the boots were bunched up, or somehow awkward against the tops of my feet. This feeling didn't last long, though.
Outside it was sunny and bright, and there was still snow on the ground. I managed to catch the bus to school, where I did some more audio editing, and once again consulted with Nathan about various computer woes, which turned out to not be so woeful after all. This is a great thing. I brushed my teeth--I couldn't remember whether or not I had already done so today, which was in and of itself concerning.
Walking through campus I found myself feeling quite light hearted and happy for no particular reason that I was aware of. I noticed how interesting it was to feel those qualities at a time when I am also feeling under pressure, and more busy than feels sustainable. I saw a snowman by Mackinnon, and I found myself playing with sliding along Winegard walk and the ramps by the library. When I saw Tara as I left the Waldorf fair on the weekend, she and her kids were sliding outside the school. She told me that if it was icy when I borrowed her shoes, that I had to try sliding in them. It was fun. Sometimes it happened unintentionally, which was startling, but still fun.
I did a short presentation in my sociology class, which somehow went well. My teacher encouraged a bunch of us to publish our work, which is kind of nifty. More computer work between classes, and me noticing that I wasn't experiencing much of that (now familiar) feeling of disconnect when I caught glimpses of the shoes, but more of a fascination. I actually at one point had to remind myself to look up when I was walking because campus was so busy and I seemed at risk of bumping into someone or something. Part of my happiness I think came from my excitement at wearing Tara's shoes. I love the stories they have, and I love Tara.
Today was our first day of final critiques in my studio class. It was great to see what everyone has been working on. Heading into it I felt excited. And then nervous. I got up the nerve towards the end to volunteer myself to go. I found myself with a lot to say, and I don't even know if I said what felt most pertinent to me, or even really did justice to the things I've learned in other people's shoes, but that's okay. I also got to see the video (the higher quality version) projected large on the wall. It was still dizzying, but less so. Urszula was kind enough to take some pictures so that I could post photos of me and the blog and Tara's shoes. There are a bunch of them. I think that I am kind of intrigued by the way I seem to use my hands when I talk / explain things. I wasn't aware that I did that. And perhaps I don't usually. I also guess that I stand pigeon-toed and in awkward positions when I am presenting.
Some thoughts and comments about the project that came out of the crit (that I can remember):
Some students in my class wouldn't feel okay wearing anyone else's footwear. It had to do with a bit of a grossness factor. I hadn't really thought about this before. My teacher talked about how it is really a kind of intimate act, having your feet become warm where another person's feet have become warm...
That shoes demand a lot--what to wear with them where to go / be in them, how to walk...
How the entire day, the entire past 17 or so days, is a performance in a way--art in the studio, art in the kitchen, art waiting for the bus, art doing laundry...I have trouble with the label "art" for my own endeavors. Though I suppose it does seem like wearing other people's shoes has taken up a bunch of my life lately, and yet it is also just there as I do everything else.
Just now it occurred to me that this seems to be to be such a warm exchange--someone being willing to lend their shoes, and another person being willing to wear them.
When class was over it was dark already, and I met Chris at the library briefly before heading home. Outside the wind was gusting so strongly that it was difficult walking in a straight line. I found myself exceedingly grateful to Tara and her socks, as my feet managed to stay toasty as I walked a little way to wait for the bus outside the MacStew. I missed the snowfall--Ben described it as a squall--earlier this afternoon, but had fun trudging through the results of it, and sliding on some of the icy bits.
My back was pretty sore from the sitting I'd done earlier today, and walking from downtown with my bag. At home I asked Ben if he would mind untying my shoes and loosening them so that I could take them off more easily. Thankfully, he complied and told me that he was glad I could ask him for things like that. So was I.
Tara's shoes seem like they've been well worn and loved. I liked how soft they were and how they were almost falling apart at the same time that they were sturdy and useful. And I really enjoyed the story that came with them, as well as Tara's thoughtfulness and generosity in lending me her ever so warm and lovely socks. I found myself today smiling when I glanced at my feet and thought about all the things these boots have been up to; I just found myself delighting in the adventures they had been on, and the person they belong to. It crossed my mind that I wanted to be able to contribute more to their story, something great, but at the same time it felt like enough just to wear them through whatever my day turned out to be. Although my day (unfortunately) didn't include any kissing in the bushes or planting of trees or scientific discoveries or artistic achievements or personal breakthroughs or great acts of daring, generosity, or kindness, it included a lot of just being in the world, just noticing...and just being happy to be in Tara's shoes.