Thursday, March 20, 2008


The other day Erica asked me whose shoes I was wearing. It’s actually been well over a month since I’ve worn any shoes other than my own. I told her that I’d really like to start putting myself in other people’s shoes again, that February was a really taxing month, but that I’ve been hoping for an opportunity for a footwear-related adventure to present itself. And it did. Erica informed said that she had some boots for me to wear.

She dropped them by my place Monday evening before going for a run. We had tea and a chat, and she introduced me to her boots.

Erica bought these boots some years ago—she was 18 years old, and she found them in St. Catherines. She told me that they have never fit her properly, but that she wore them all the time regardless. She dislikes shoe-shopping so much that she was happy to find boots that she liked, and them being one size too small didn’t stop her from buying them and wearing them enough that they eventually sort of fit her feet. She told me that she intends to get rid of them, and that my wearing them would be a nice send off.

Erica’s boots are a brown suede-like material that lace up not unlike figure skates, and go to about mid-calf. They have a wedge heed, and their shape reminds me a lot of Mari’s shoes. In fact, they even have holes in the same places.

One of the first things I noticed about Erica’s shoes (besides the hole above the right big toe), were the pockets on the outside of each shoe. I’ve never worn shoes with pockets before. (“For weed,” someone said to me in class today, which I hadn’t considered. I was thinking more along the lines of keys, money, ID…but who knows.) The pockets are secured with velcro, and each has a little tag with “Molt’s” written on it (presumably the brand of the shoe).

Although Erica’s feet are a bit bigger than mine, her shoes, being small for her, fit me quite well. It was rainy today, and on account of the holes in Erica’s boots, and my guess that they weren’t waterproof, I wore a pair of socks over my tights. Her boots felt really snug on my double-socked feet, and I found myself wishing that the left shoe had a little hole for my big toe to peek out of as well. It also felt really strange to be wearing heeled shoes again, and noticing how they change the way I walk, and how my feet look small when I peer down at them.

As the day went on Erica’s shoes felt less unfamiliar on my feet, although I found myself quite aware of their presence. Maybe because it’s been awhile since I’ve had to adapt to someone else’s shoes on my feet.

I walked downtown on some super-icy sidewalks, clutching the railing where there was one (and thusly soaking my left mitten). At school I joined some classmates at a bank of computers, all of us finishing up things due within the hour. The brown of Erica’s boots was interesting against the grey patterned carpeting that is all over the library. My feet also got extremely hot inside two socks, inside her boots, inside well-heated buildings. It didn’t occur to me to take off the extra pair of socks, so instead I had really hot feet for most of the day.

In class it has been apparent that it’s getting to the end of second semester. People seem tired, and everything is a bit more laid back. We finished critiquing our assignments and looked at lots of slides to give us ideas for our next one. I stood the entire three hours, and my feet began to ache. I think I am just not used to heels.

For my last assignment I made posters of proposed meals for specific artists, which I think turned out to be quite beautiful. I’ve also been continuing to collect recipes for disaster (send yours my way, if you’d like!), and helping people wear their hearts on their sleeves, which has been really interesting. There are some other idioms and projects I’m curious about, as well, but I’ve also been wanting to keep up with the shoe side of things.

After class I was exhausted and achy, so I did a bit more work at school and then headed home. On the block before my house there were some young girls across the street. They were singing, “these boots were made for walking, and that’s just what they’ll do…” it made me smile, which I think made them feel a bit embarrassed. When I got home I noticed marks on the tops of Erica’s boots where I must have been standing on them. I think I have a habit of putting one foot on top of another when I’m nervous or standing for awhile.

This evening I’ve been reading and doing schoolwork. I made poached eggs, which is a new specialty of mine, though I am actually not too skilled at it. Other more successful recent culinary adventures have included some impressively gourmet pizza, cornbread, pesto soup, gnocchi, and tomato sauce from last years tomatoes (which was like summer in my mouth).

(Banana bread. Better than the poached eggs, not as good as the gnocchi)

Now it’s just about 9pm, but I feel very ready for sleep.

Today the brown of Erica’s boots blended in with the brown and grey that seemed to be all around. It felt like it could be one of any number of seasons. It was raining, though there was still so much ice and snow. It seemed like it could be winter trying to be spring, or spring parading as winter. If I closed my eyes, it seemed like it could be fall. And even when I opened them, if someone had told me they were sure it was November, it wouldn’t seem like such a ridiculous thing. Funny, this disorienting weather on a day—the first in awhile—when I’ve been in unfamiliar shoes, and also a day—not the first in a while—that other things have felt disorienting, too. In part I think it’s that end of term (or end of anything) anxiety that comes up when things are changing.

Erica’s boots are loyal and well-worn, what with their multiple holes (and even a lose sole, which I only just noticed when I took them off!). Something about their pockets and rounded toes make me think of high school and when I was 18. This may also be part of why they seemed a bit out of place on my feet today (since high school was some time ago now). I felt a bit badly that my feet got so achy in them, and I am remembering the extent of the obligation that I feel towards another person’s shoes—how much I want to have something exciting to write about, how I believe I should savour the feeling of my feet in another’s shoes, how much I worry that being uncomfortable in a pair of shoes holds some meaning that extends beyond that simple fact. It’s all very interesting. Regardless, I am hoping that melting snow and birdsong and warmer weather will bring with it whole new categories of shoes to wear. It may almost be time to put winter boots away…but then again, I recall thinking that same thought about a month ago.

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