Wednesday, September 3, 2008

sandals at last

I took this picture post-rolling down a step hill, and pre-swimming and and trail-exploring.
My feet are pretty happy to be enjoying the last few sweet days of summer in sandals. (Summer, for me, ends with back to school time, which is somehow here already.)

I began my quest for sandals last summer, but never found any. Instead I wore an old pair that had holes in the bottom. The holes got bigger, and eventually I threw them away. This summer I was having such a hard time finding sensible yet lovely sandals that weren't over $100 that I decided I would just wear a pair of sandals that I found at my parent's house. I got them when I was somewhere between 13 and 15 years old, and they were really well worn, but relatively functional still. After a day on my feet at the art camp I was teaching at, I had to trash that idea. My back was totally achy and awful. The same thing happened when I wore another pair of nearly done for (and totally arch-less) sandals that had been my aunt's. So I began to take the sandal hunt slightly more seriously.

My main predicament with things like proper sandals and dish drying racks and home internet service, is that while very helpful and pleasant, they aren't necessary enough to encourage me to want to spend the energy it takes to make them a part of my life. With enough time (which is (perhaps) surprisingly little), I can adapt to living without these kinds of things. So I've been wearing closed shoes in the summer, and leaving dishes to dry in a plastic tray and seeking out free wireless around town.

But finally I decided to actually take the plunge and buy this pair of sandals. Part of the reason it took so long to do just that is that proper shoes are a bit of an investment. I wanted to try a few different kinds of sandals on first. I am still not sure if I got the "right" or "best" pair of sandals for me. In the end it was a bit of a compromise. I figured that it was worth just going for something that was good enough instead of trying to go on any more far flung excursions.

So I bought them from a store in downtown Guelph, just blocks from where I live. I'd been in the store once in the middle of the summer and tried them on. Waiting so long to buy them was a bit of a gamble, but when I went in the other week, I ended up getting the last pair. They happened to be just my size (actually one size too big, but that doesn't seem to be a problem). They also happened to be less than half their original price, which was a good thing.

I had a bit of a hard time the first few days I wore them. I didn't love them like I would like to love my shoes. They aren't red or especially cheerful or unusual. They don't slip on (my ideal sandals would do just some points my back has been so painful that I have depended on other people to do up my shoes for me). And while they are sensible (i.e. supportive) and not overwhelming sensible (i.e. clunky) they gave me blisters. Blisters!
Blisters are not any fun.

I was talking to my dad. He frequently suffers from what he has come to term "buyer's remorse." This is something that I also know well. He commiserated with me. Apparently he has had lots of bad luck with sandals. It was nice to talk to someone who understood. I asked if he had any suggestions. "Well, you know what the cowboys do."
I didn't.
"When they get a new pair of leather boots, they fill them up with warm water, and then wear them."
Hmmm...puzzled (I was picturing cowboys and their boots and bathtubs), I asked if they dumped out the water first.
"Well, aislinn, as you know, the water would be displaced by their feet."
My dad is a scientist.

This so-called "cowboy technique" sounded like a bad idea to me. I couldn't imagine my sandals being any more comfortable wet. In fact it seemed to me like that situation would be a whole lot worse (blisters + wet sandals = no more blisters? This seems like a clearly imbalanced equation).

I kind of dismissed it, and wore band aids. But over one lunch break, I was enticed by the thought of cooling off a little and went for a walk in the Elora gorge. I didn't know it, but lots of people do just that, and there are stone steps that lead down to the river for just that purpose. I wore my sandals, since it was super rocky and slippery. The gorge was gorgeous (no pun intended), and the water clear and cold. The rest of the day my feet were cool and comfortable, and ever since then I haven't had any blister problems.
Go figure.

So anyhow, I've had a few days off before classes begin again. I'm trying to do summer-y things so that I can't complain about the season passing me by. I've canned peaches in these sandals (sticky and slightly dangerous), biked to swimming holes (yay for swimming!), gone for circuitous walks (surprisingly challenging), eaten gelato in the middle of the Yonge and Dundas scramble (lemon! raspberry!...super yummy), picked tomatoes (they taste like summer) and danced in my living room (highly recommended any time of year).

The shoes are beginning to seem more natural, and less like alien parasites on my feet. I have been thinking about what it means to commit myself to a pair of shoes, to chose them and to put myself in them each day. And what it means more generally to wear one's own shoes. I feel like I have more to say about this, but it's still not fully formulated in my head. And this post is long enough as it is.
So it will have to wait.

Happy September, all! I hope your feet are enjoying this late-summer sandal weather, too. And if they're not, consider doing what the cowboys do...

1 comment:

jesse said...

note about the cowboy boot thing. When I was young, we would do the same with a new baseball glove, kind of. You'd wet it, or better yet, oil it, then put a ball in it, then tie it up in a rope really tight, so the pocket get's a nice, well, pocket, to it, and makes catching a little easier and more friendly to your hand.