Lately, I’ve been preoccupied somewhat by visual, textural and other physical-emotive memories surrounding shoes. There are a few threads in this tapestry, so bear with me, as I am also not feeling very eloquent today. It is turning out to be yet another non-verbal / low-word thought day in a series of many in the past two weeks. That said, I nevertheless managed to finish editing a 4,400 word book chapter. Reading the words aloud helps me at times like these – the transference from the purely verbal semantics into the proprioceptive action of ‘noise-making’ seems to alleviate the pain that this state of shutdown delivers. Am I making sense? Maybe not much, but it sure sounds fun to the ears!
Anyhow, back to the shoes… My last pair of very comfortable sneakers finally gave up the ghost. It was the last pair of sneakers to bow out from my former vast and eclectic collection of shoes. This nifty pair served my feet well for a good six years, even though the pristine white leather slowly degenerated into crackly, craggly, mottled off-white as the years wore by. I was hanging on to the scruffy pair for two reasons – they were superbly comfortable, and I also did not have another $150 to spare for a new, similar pair.
The cosmos, however, had other ideas, and its elements lined up to send me a very marked directive on a fateful morning two weeks ago: while out walking with Lucy, feeling nauseous and dizzy from sensory triggers and the effort of fighting off anxiety attacks through the night, I absent-mindedly stepped on doggy poo. Not Lucy’s, because I picked hers up – it had to be some other dog’s leavings, whose recalcitrant human had carelessly left behind, thus helping to seal the final destiny of my cherished but bedraggled footwear. Splat! I knew immediately that the squidgy feeling underfoot was very bad news indeed. Try as I might, I could not wipe the stuff off – I tried rubbing the soles on the grass, scraping them along rough pavement etc, but to no avail. The gooey stuff had firmly embedded into every tiny crevice, and the smell wafted up to haunt me throughout the journey home!
I could not bring myself to wash the shoes, it would’ve been too sensorially overwhelming a task at the time (especially in my fragile state, which nearly gave way to a complete and tearful sensory meltdown), so I tossed them. It was a significant act, because it came at the same time as my getting rid of an unequal relationship with a socially forceful person. I felt trapped inside the vortex of crass dramatics, bullied and pushed along to comply with an attention seeking agenda that demanded far too much out of me: an overwhelming connection that was slowly turning quite rancid, its noxious fumes rising like dark plumes overtaking and choking my serenity and peace of mind. The Sneakers-and-Mary-Contrary episode underlined in my sensescape the concrete implication of the phrase, “Something smells really bad!” Into bag and bin: Out, damn’d spot! out, I say!
The search for comfortable shoes that actually appealed to my aesthetic sensibilities has been a life long one. As a child, I was often berated for either being “too picky” and “wasting money” because I could not settle into my new shoes – it scraped, it felt weird, it didn’t ‘walk’ properly, it hurt in myriad ways etc. Buying me shoes did seem a terrible waste, to be fair, but the struggle was very real, although nobody knew at the time that was autism related sensory idiosyncrasy.
Then, much later on, during my Golden-Cage misery years, I tried to drown the voices of physical suffering and mental anguish of the soul-subjugation inside a literal shoe fixation. At my peak, I owned 200 pairs, and every one of them of high quality too. However, even then, comfort was elusive, and only about a dozen or so in the grand collection actually felt comfortable enough to wear for brief periods of time. I loved the aesthetics of dressing up, the artistry and the process. but the actual Being-Dressed was and still is a volatile sensory experience. Clothes, shoes and other adornments are literally painful to the hyper senses – and winter is the worst season in the year for this. Anyway, in the end, where it comes to my weird feet, boots and sneakers are the ultimate winners. I think I shall dedicate all future procurements to this thematic material.
Well, in an ironic twist of circumstances, it is 2015, and I am no longer the unhappy subaltern haunting the lonely hallways in the Penthouse of Repression, but I now face a different conundrum. Upon the final demise of my white leather sneakers, I found myself staring at the computer screen in a struggle of a different kind. I scoured the internet for Truly Very Cheap Shoes and found a pair of delightful gumboots going for $15, and slip-on sneakers at $10! I was quite thrilled, really, but I nevertheless battled hard and long with the cost for the entire sleepless night. Sheer need won in the end and, breathing in deeply and slowly, I put in the order: it cost me a grand total of $33.80! **Do I hear applause? Well done, Bunnyhopscotch, well done indeed!**
In the miry far right religious world from which I came, my current impoverished condition, albeit temporary, is seen as a shameful travesty, a state somehow brought upon by my ‘sinfulness’ and ‘errant ways.’ However, I have never been so close to the wonderment of all that is clement, and even Holy, inside a state of fulfilment and Beingness than I am now. I have not ever partaken of so much underserved Grace – from the Grand Sphere, from God, from friends and what is left of ‘family’ than the present. This ‘shoe’ fits. In a strangely miraculous way. It fits, at last!
I now await with bated breath, dizzy head and quivering feet for my wonderful new shoes to arrive, crossing frost numbed fingers, Chilblain embattled toes and wrinkling nose for good effect, in the hope that they will be kind to me and wear well.