Friday, December 7, 2007

WILL

Wednesday December 5, 2007.

I met up with Will on Tuesday morning. He told me to give him a call when I woke up and we would meet for breakfast. The problem was that my natural waking time and his are pretty different things, so I actually ate breakfast around 7am, and didn't call Will until after 9, when I knew he'd be up. We decided to meet at 10:30 at the Sunset Grill on Richmond at Younge.
I found myself arriving slightly late, and didn't see Will in the restaurant, so waited outside. I eventually saw a green-jacketed fellow on a bike hurtling towards me on the sidewalk, and it was Will. Will's bright green jacket wasn't the only thing that was striking about him. He also had on a pair of yellow-orange tinted ski goggles, a big white helmet and beard I didn't know he had grown (or even could, for that matter). He stopped inches from me and breathless said, "is it closed?" I explained that I just preferred waiting outside. He told me he was late because he had forgotten to pack the pair of shoes he was intending to lend me. I was happy that he had gone back for them--it was worth waiting a few minutes on the street corner, even with all the holiday music and mayhem around me.


We went inside, Will put down his pannier and, wordless, went back outside. Through the window I could see him cleaning the brown slushy stripe from the back of his jacket by tossing it against the snow on the garbage receptacle outside the restaurant. He came back in, hung up his coat, sat down and said something like, "so how are ya?"
I was actually having a bit of a rough day. I was completely teary as I explained the whole situation. Will said something like, "I can see that this is depressing, so why don't we change the topic. How are things in Guelph?" For some reason this made the tears flow even more. I said, "Will, there's no way I'm not going to not cry...I hope you're okay with that." Will offered me a hug, which I accepted. We both sat down again, and carried on. I'm not sure why I feel compelled to share this whole exchange. Perhaps because Will has a way about him that is his own, and which I don't know how to explain, but hope to gesture at. It has something to do with an interesting combination of purposefulness and remove. With a bunch of other things thrown in as well.
Will and I don't usually see each other more than twice a year, but it's really nice to catch up when we do. Knowing that I had eaten breakfast already, he brought some comic books he had made so that I wouldn't have to watch him eat (although I wouldn't have minded that, either). And he showed me his shoes.


The shoes that Will decided to lend me were Mountain Equipment Co-op slippers. Booties may be a more accurate term. They are blue with a black sole and black elasticized drawstrings at the top and at the ankle of each slipper. They are insulated, and are kind of poofy. The sole feels like it has a piece of dense foam inside, and has a non-slip fabric on the outside. Will told me that I could wear them out in the world, that he often does so for short periods of time. I was worried that if I wore them on the street, I would wear them right through in no time. So I chose to wear them inside only.


I didn't ask Will why of all his shoes he decided to lend me slippers. He did know that I was staying in an apartment that had no heat, so that might have factored into his decision. If nothing else, Will's shoes are definitely warm.


When I first put on Will's shoes, I laughed immediately. They were rather large on my feet. Looking down, I felt kind of ridiculous wearing them. They seemed totally shapeless, and I felt like I was wearing moon boots. Jon thought they looked like Muppet shoes...he actually tried them on briefly, and did a pretty convincing little Muppet dance. Wearing Will's shoes gave me the strange sense that my feet were two puddles at the bottom of my legs.


Strangeness factor aside, Will's shoes were infinitely warm. Almost too warm. My feet were toasty within minutes of putting on Will's shoes, and to be honest, got sweaty pretty quickly.

When I returned Will's shoes to him on Thursday, he mentioned not wearing them too often for this reason. I thought it was really very generous and open for someone to lend me shoes that I was pretty much guaranteed to sweat in.


I wore Will's shoes around the house on Wednesday. I puttered a bit in the morning, but left to meet a friend around 10am. I also went on a long long wander through the city and sat and wrote at a cafe before heading back. On the way to Jon and Paul's place I picked up some cocoa. It was Paul's birthday on Thursday, and the plan was to make him a cake. A book by one of my favourite Children's authors, Patricia Polacco, includes a recipe for "Thunder Cake," a cake made with tomatoes (and the title of the book). We thought that Paul might appreciate a cake with a secret ingredient, and I used tomatoes that were in the freezer, preserved from the farm. I wore Will's shoes as I figured out substitutions (honey instead of sugar), guessed at measurements (what does a cup of butter look like?), and tried to discern whether or not it was indeed baking soda in the container marked "baking powder." Will's shoes were keeping my toes way warmer than anything else in the apartment as I attempted to cream butter at who knows what temperature (it is possible, though challenging), and to figure out how stiff egg whites are supposed to get.


I also wore Will's slippers as Paul came downstairs and told me he was going out for the evening, and may not come back before leaving to visit his family on Thursday. (This when I was about to despair over the still chunky butter.) I figured we might have to just freeze the cake for Paul to have when he got back in a few days, but when Jon came in we went about devising a sneaky way to find out where Paul was and deliver the cake. To make a long story short, we ended up riding the subway about 7 stops and almost getting lost to drop off the cake (with a candle and instructions) on the front porch of Paul's friend, whose address we ended up having to ask Paul for. Not so sneaky after all, but fun none the less.


I wore Will's slippers as I ate dinner, and stayed up too late talking and making a hot water bottle.

Will's slippers are large and awkward on my feet, and I tripped several times when I wore them. They are also very very warm, in a way that was both good and occasionally problematic. Will's shoes made an interesting sound as they swished along the ground when I walked, and when I tripped up stairs. Interestingly, I began to notice the really strong difference between wearing shoes and wearing slippers inside a home. In Will's slippers I felt like I was in an entirely different mode. One that was less productive, less apart of the rest of the world. Even when I was making birthday cake. In Will's shoes I felt like I was preparing to hibernate, or otherwise curl into myself. I felt a bit slower. A bit muffled or protected. And kind of sleepy.
In this way Will's shoes were almost a sort of buffer between me and everything else. A very very exceedingly warm and somewhat sweaty buffer.