My favourite shoes are not my favourite because of how they look. They are not my favourite because they are particularly comfortable – they’re not. They are not my favourite because someone special gave them to me. They are my favourite because of the steps they’ve taken with me, the remembering embedded within the soles of leather.
The scratch on the toe where I tripped on a huge boulder and face-planted on a slab of granite while climbing beachside rocks in the Croajingalong National Park.
A small burn mark still on the bottom of the left heal where I mistakenly stubbed out a cheeky cigarette many moons ago. Every now and then I look at young girls smoking cigarettes and in a flash, before I can conjure my appropriate disapproval I’m jolted by a tiny spark of envy, just below the sternum. The spark makes it’s way out of my body through the small site on the bottom of my heel.
One of the laces has a crude knot tying two frayed ends together, somewhere near the third loop of the right sandal. I just found them like that one day. I don’t know how it happened. (Or do I not remember?)
These sandals map my memory, and my lapsed memory.
I think I gave them to a Salvation Army store, or maybe (and more likely) I quietly slotted them into the rubbish bin one day, thinking that they would leave me. They’ve stayed quietly, with their memories.
A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush…
Every now and then, I look at myself and wonder how it happened. How that ambitious, big dreaming, sharp-talking, fast living self came to be what is now a quiet, restrained, inward-looking, stability-seeking mother of one.
I am a wife. I was single and carefree.
I am disabled. I was strong and able-bodied.
I am introverted. I was never alone.
I am drawn to stability. I was without regard for my own safety.
I am a mother. I only ever thought of myself.
I have established roots. I was transient, changing addresses at least twice a year.
Every now and then, I look at myself and wonder how it happened. Every now and then, I think how I would love to be her again. With her long hair, her easy smile, her quick wit and sharp tongue. Her smooth, young skin. Her glamorous and elegant clothes. Every now and then I think of her empty house, her sparse furniture, her strained look in the bathroom mirror in the mornings.
And…then, every now and then, when I look at myself in the bathroom mirror, it occurs to me that I always look tired in the morning. I look in the mirror and I’m grateful for the somewhat sad slant my eyes have acquired. I’m not really sad, gravity has decided my expression. It means I survived having nothing. Having something to lose is scary as hell, but it is the bird in my hand – and she and the life she had, those twin birds have fled to the bush.