Friday, December 21, 2007


Thursday December 20, 2007.

When we were at the Shepherd's Play last Friday, I asked Kimm if he would lend me a pair of his shoes. He later wrote me that he had a pair picked out--an old pair of brown sneakers. He told me that he usually isn't a pack rat, and normally throws away an old pair of shoes as soon as he gets new ones. But these shoes, for some reason, have lived in the back of his closet for sometime: "they still have some life in them," he wrote, although he doesn't wear them anymore.

(Some of the animals at Fourfold Farm, where the Shepherd's Play took place.) (The changing room.)

(The barn where we watched from straw bales and tried to keep warm.)

(Kimm took this one. Shortly after, we saw the northern lights. It was magical.)

(So many people! We all had cider and Sandra's delicious cookies afterwards.)

Kimm dropped of his shoes to me at the art studio on Wednesday. He was all red-cheeked and bundled as he told me that he had seen me dancing though the window, and told me a bit more about about his shoes. Inside Kimm's brown sneakers were a pair of Birkenstock insoles. He told me about how those insoles have been on his feet every summer, spring and fall for three years, that they have seen him through two summers of tobacco planting, and that they should really give me a feel for the shape of his feet.

I wore Kimm's shoes the following day.
I spent some time in the morning writing the post about Ben's shoes. Lately I've been finding it hard to wear a pair of shoes and post about them all in the same day, although I like the immediacy of going about it that way. Somehow things seem really quite busy despite the fact that a lot of my usual obligations are on hold for a few weeks.

At any rate, I put on Kimm's shoes just after 9am and headed downtown for an appointment. There was still bunches of snow and slush on the ground, and not an ideal time for sneakers. It just so happened, however, that I had a lot of stuff to carry and had intended to take the bus anyhow, so my feet didn't get too cold or wet.

Walking in Kimm's shoes I was mostly struck by the effect of his insoles. Usually when I wear shoes that are large on me, my foot stays close to or at the back of the shoe, and most of the extra space is at the front. With the insoles, though, my heels didn't want to stay at the back of the shoes. Instead, my arches wanted to align themselves with the arches of Kimm's insoles, which were further forward, and so the whole of each foot was shifted away from its usual spot. As I walked further, I noticed how the insoles had the added benefit of shielding my feet from the cold sidewalk below. Interestingly, the front half of each foot was colder than the back, as Kimm's insoles don't fill his entire shoe, and instead only go about half way. The back also felt hard in comparison with the pliable and soft space where there was no insole. I also found that the place where they bent as I took each step was further forward than I am used to, and resulted in the sensation that I was about to pitch forward with each step. Luckily, this didn't happen--although I did trip several times. I quickly relaxed with it, and like it often seems to happen, wearing Kimm's shoes eventually felt familiar.

Except when it didn't. Every so often, sandwiched between times of being comfortable in Kimm's shoes, I had the distinct sense that Kimm's shoes were definitely not meant for my feet. For moments at a time they would feel hard and unforgiving, and like the shape of them was all wrong for me. And then in a few steps they would begin to feel average on my feet again. It was really striking, this back-and-forthness. I don't know what to make of it.

As I was walking to the bus stop after my appointment, I was all caught up in my own stuff. My head was busy thinking about all sorts of things, and I thought about how I take all of my own baggage to each pair of shoes that I wear. How to really put oneself in another's shoes as the saying urges, is very difficult to do because of the particular perspective that we carry to each experience. But maybe dropping one's baggage / perspective to pick up another's isn't the point, entirely. Maybe it is possible to double the load...or try to. Or maybe not. I'm not at all sure.

I also thought about why it is that I've been missing the intensity of applying myself to the task of everyday wearing another person's shoes. It occurred to me that at the same time that my own stuff distracts me from really being in the moment to moment experience of wearing unfamiliar footwear, wearing other people's shoes is a really nice way to give me a sense of purpose each day, something to try hard to concentrate on and be concious of. Something to attempt to do. Wearing other people's shoes at least focuses my energy and encourages me to be perceptive, if it doesn't distract me from some of my own stuff.

I saw Janet and Caleb downtown, and blew kisses to where they were in their car. I was thinking about how the baby inside Janet's tummy is due any day now, and it occurred to me that it if it were me, I think I'd be at home drumming my fingers and checking my watch, afraid to go anywhere. I am sending them so many well wishes!

[As a side note, I was talking with my mom today about the details of childbirth, and just how much water actually comes out when ones water breaks. She told me that when she was expecting me, a woman advised her to carry around a jar of pickles in the final stages of her pregnancy. She told my mom that when her water broke, she should drop the jar of pickles and exclaim, "oh my, I just dropped a jar of pickles!" as some way to hide the fact that actually, that clear fluid was coming from inside her. Oh my. My mom told me that she simply couldn't imagine explaining having a jar of pickles in her hands at the public library. Needless to say, she didn't take the well-intentioned woman's advice.]

I took the bus to the university, where Nathan helped me with more computer stuff and let me sign out some equipment as we talked about the general state of the world, trees, and public transit. I went home, had lunch and finished working on Ben's post before having dinner and heading out to meet up with Leslie.

(The cast iron pan that I have yet to season.)

(My second Christmas card--in the form of a postcard made by a friend! Thank you, Jenn and Jimmie!! It made my day.)

(It's hard to tell what's going on here, but there is a small curtain of snow outside the window, where the snow half slid off the roof and decided to freeze there. The plants seem mildly amused.)

Walking to the store where Leslie now works, I noticed how my gait seemed to have change in reaction to the particularities of Kimm's shoes. My feet felt kind of floppy on my legs, and it seemed to me that I was taking rather loose steps. Once there, I swore I saw the back of (other) Nathan's head in the comic book store. I also heard his laugh. I told Leslie, and she had the boldness in her to almost press her face against the glass until Nathan turned around and came out to say hello.

(Yummy 100 mile bread, made with red fife wheat. Umm...)

After Leslie was done work we stopped by the Bookshelf before returning movies at Thomas Video and heading to the Red Brick Cafe. After chatting a bit with Mark and Matthew we drank tea, shared a marvelous piece of cake that the server raved about, and talked about--among other things--ovulation and our mutual ambivalence towards parties and other large social gatherings. It was nice. I walked home, feet floppy and yawning.

(An impressive rendition of the covered bridge in gingerbread.)

(Blurry feet.)
Kimm's shoes were interesting on my feet. At times they seemed to entirely belong there, while at others they felt awkward and uncomfortable. It just now struck me that that that's a bit how I feel about most of my own clothing, and most of the things that I take on for myself. They made me think about the place of wearing other people's shoes in my life, and also encouraged me to ponder the inconstant relationship I have with most objects, and the inconstant presence of things in our lives. At the same time as I found myself deeply reflective, Kimm's shoes were light and floppy and fun on my feet. Wearing Kimm's shoes I found myself in an myriad of interesting both-at-onces, which I feel I can relate to, and which, really, I rather like.

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