Monday, July 5, 2010
My Jesus Sandals
For my birthday before I went to India in 1985 my parents gave me a pair of custom sandals, handmade by a real tanner. Actually, I found the style of the sandals in a leather shop in downtown Athens, had the owner (who made saddles, belts, and all kinds of leather-goods), measure my feet and make me a pair. My parents mailed me a check inside a birthday card. At the time I was making little money, still living like a college student even though I had already graduated a couple of years back.
But, I was going to India and I wanted to wear these sandals. Very romantic of me actually. I admit I have a definable romantic streak at times.
Even though the sandals were very well made, they hurt my feet for about the first month or so until I had them properly broken in. Solid leather soles with a slight rubber heel cushion. They fit tight and I walked dozens of miles in India in them. They were my primary footwear there.
For years they were left in the closet after my return. I got them out now and then. Once, when we were living in the basement of Jennifer’s parents’ home, they got slightly moldy, so I cleaned them and wore them for a couple of days. Then back to the closet for many years.
The past two summers I have gotten them out and worn them a lot in hotter weather. They still feel nice and tight. Maybe a bit more give in them than from when I was in India but otherwise a very comfortable feel. Not cushy though.
The shock of your foot hitting the ground, absorbed with the running shoes I normally wear to work, moves directly into your foot and up to your ankle. So, you don’t want to go around banging your feet on the ground in them. You walk a bit lighter, more on the ball of your foot than the heel, to reduce the banging.
I wear them a lot to the grocery store. My daughter thinks I am so uncool in them. In fact, I am grotesque to her, judging by the looks she gives me. I did manage to talk her into making the pics for this post, however.
I was wearing these sandals the day I met Jennifer. It was, coincidentally, my birthday in 1987. Clint was there too, for the first time. Jennifer complimented me on the how my sandals looked. I explained a bit about my recent trip to India. A conversation started. It is still going on, only in a far more complex form after all these years of marriage.
I call them my Jesus Sandals because many people told me they looked "Jesus-like" when they first saw me wearing them. The nickname stuck in my mind. They are 25 years old this summer. They literally connect me back to the ground I walked in India. I am changed in many ways from who I was at that time. But in some ways I am the same. India was a spiritual quest and that quest continues albeit transformed by time into other expressions.