Once in a while (like everyone else on the planet) I get frustrated in these shoes. I want to fling them off and try standing in someone else's for a while...just to see how it feels.
Today we went to a wonderful art show in Tampa. It was 82 degrees in the Florida sun. There were beads of sweat on my forehead that welcomed the occasional breeze and reminded me that the blazing heat of summer is only weeks away.
The same summer heat that brings tourists flocking to the beaches to broil like lobsters in the sand. The same heat that rises from the pavement while you sit parked at a stoplight, praying your car won't overheat or your air conditioner won't sputter and die. The same heat that threatens to send you to the hospital, as your garden shears plow through the De'Leon jungle that has suddenly become your backyard. And the same heat that sends you into air conditioned hibernation from June until September - when you realize that one more trip to the mall just might send you over the edge!
I remember standing there, (at the show) wishing I could be one of those tourists strolling by, vacationing here and then going back to a place where the weather is milder. I knew they were wishing they could stay. I wanted to offer them my shoes.
Then there was the artists to consider. I knew what they were thinking as the patrons walked by. I could read their faces, each line and wrinkle speaking volumes. Humiliation, as a voice mutters, "He calls that art?", followed by a snicker and a fake smile. Exhaustion, having spent the morning setting up displays in hopes of selling at least enough to pay for the entry fees, the gas to get there, and a bite or two of a sandwich in between people "just browsing". Longing, as their neighbor in the booth next door makes a sale that dwarfs their entire days receipts, leaving them to wonder where they went wrong and whether or not they've chosen the right path. I've walked in their shoes and decided they were too uncomfortable to live in for long.
After the show, I rushed off to my nieces baby shower. As she laughed and ripped through the brightly colored paper and bows, I imagined what it must be like to be beautiful and young, with a life growing inside of you. Something I myself had missed.
As I snapped photos and zoomed in on her, I allowed my mind to linger in the place behind her eyes. I stared out at all the faces, the center of attention. I felt adored, hopeful, cherished and loved. All of the things I had wished for her. All the things I had wished for myself, a long time ago. It felt warm and my heart swelled. Tears threatened to spill until I wiggled my toes in old familiar shoes.
As we drove home, my husband chattered away. I slipped off my sneakers for the long drive home. My socks clung to the carpeted floorboard and I could feel the hum of the engine under my feet. It felt good to be without shoes, and I began to feel like myself again.