Baby take off your shoes.

Sat in on a memoir-writing class led by a poet and a third grade English teacher. They gave us random words, and told us to free-write for 15-minutes for each word. They told us to just go with the flow, no editing and no logic. I told them not to worry about me and logic, my posts are generally illogical already.

Here are the words I was given:  Shoes; Watermelon; Home. Not going to be the deepest posts ever.

Let’s start with shoes.

Shoes carry my feet. That’s not right, they are a cover and support for my feet. They protect my feet from the weather, from broken glass and urine on the street. I’ve sometimes wondered if shoes are really needed- except of course for city walking and all the hazards that would entail including cars running over your naked feet, particularly in this city. What I wondered about was more if shoes are a cultural phenomenon like ties (the ultimate function-less item of clothing, seen by many as oppressive, representing western imperialism, or office oppression- did you know ties are forbidden for all IKEA employees? I still think men look great in ties sometimes). Are shoes even good for your feet? I don’t mean stilettos- which probably aren’t, but just any good old shoes. They’re not apparently. Check out this article about how it took 4 million years for humans to perfect the way they walk and how it’s all being changed, and ruined, by shoes. And that’s not nothing. It affects the way we hold ourselves, our backs, everything. Do you like those new Vibram 5-toe shoe thingies? I haven’t tried them yet, but I imagine it’s a cool experience. My friend E.O. wears them, and even manages to make them look fab.

I know from my parents that they never put any shoes on my feet until I was a year old. I walked at 10 months, but only wore my first shoes two months later, and only because it was winter in Maine where my parents were vagabonding, and too cold to be barefoot. I still have a thing about walking barefoot. Especially on soil or grass or sand.

Some people have favorite shoes. My brother will wear a single pair daily through and through, until it’s time to replace it. I like the idea of using something fully and entirely. Whether it is used and re-used by you or someone else or many ‘someone else’s, I like giving things a new life, and allowing them to fulfill their destiny. Someone’s cast off’s could be someone else’s treasures and find a new home with them. Speaking of homes and giving things a new life, a friend of mine who is visiting from abroad went with his dad to visit their family home in the South, and he was telling me how the house has been entirely refurbished and furnished (from doors to beds) using the old items from every home they (or other of their relatives) have had. His dad showed him ‘the first bed your mom and I had’, and other poetic memories. He said it made the style a bit messy and overly eclectic, but I love the idea.

It’s amazing how the shoes you wear affect how you feel. There’s a big difference (and I’ve heard men say the same) between how you feel when you wear your converse or when you wear more formal shoes. My rain boots for example make me feel so playful and child-like. They make me smile and I purposefully walk (jump?) into puddles when no one is looking. I used to never wear high heels, except at weddings for some reason. Made me feel too tall, too pushy, overpowering. Always made me feel like I was in disguise, not really me, like I was a kid playing dress up in my mom’s shoes. Which I remember vividly (or do I remember because I’ve seen a photograph?), age 3, after a bath, walking around the house naked wearing my mom’s red shoes and giggling non-stop. My mom by the way, doesn’t really wear heels either. At weddings though they only made me feel elegant and sexy. Oh and blistery. Since my last birthday, I’ve decided to wear more heels, bought several cute strappy ones in different colors and materials and am looking forward to nights out to wear them.

And shoes say a lot about a person. You express yourself and who you want to project yourself to be through your shoes. Do you ever find yourself discreetly checking out a person’s shoes when you are trying to figure out who they are?

Shoes, so many expressions and sayings and ideas about shoes. Walk a mile in someone’s shoes, a horseshoe for luck, put yourself in my shoes. So what’s in a shoe? A sole. A soul? Shoo, get out of here.  Your shoes will show you the way out.

Shoe size. We could go into all the issue of why small foot size for some people and in some cultures is a desirable trait in women. Chinese foot bindings, foot fetishes, etc. etc.

Shoes are our base, our anchor, our standing ground, delimiting the space we take up on the floor, on the earth. It is the surface of the soles of our shoes which our direct physical contact with the earth at any time.  Everywhere I go, I take up a small space on the ground, that’s where me talking, me eating, me running, comes up from. I don’t know if this is offensive, but what about people with no feet? Are they missing any of that groundedness, that connection with the earth?

So what is your shoe size? What is the size of your print on the world?

Tell me about your favorite shoes.