Heart in the Right Place

Lately I have made point, where possible, to carve out Saturday and Sunday as distinct from the rest of the week, to preserve and treasure them as true weekend days. Which attitude allowed me today to loll for hours on the hammock I’ve strung across my balcony, bathing in the sunshine and heat, re-reading Amity Gaige’s excellent new novel SEA WIFE, and sipping a bit of bourbon. For the past couple of hours, the not-unpleasant scent of a neighbor’s weed has infused the air. We’re all just doing what we gotta do to get by.

Countless articles about coping with stress during this pandemic have counseled us to try to be mindful in the present moment. To use our five senses to ground us in the here and now. A yoga meme that’s been circulating points out that in Warrior 2 pose, our front hand is in the future, our back hand is in the past, but our heart is in the present, right where it should be.

I’m all good with mindfulness. But I’ve also been finding my thoughts returning, lately, to old memories not remembered for ages. Many of them, I have to say, are painful; sad. Like many people, my path has not been invariably straight and smooth.

I’ve been waiting for the right moment to explain why I named this blog “Corrective Shoes.” Now feels like the time.

When I was probably eight years old, just starting to formulate my sense of my own self, it was determined that my feet were flat, and that that was not good, and it needed correcting.

My mother, who did not learn to drive until she was in her 40s, walked with me, her flat-footed daughter, to the Metrobus stop, which if I remember correctly was about a mile away. We took the bus to Wheaton Plaza, an open-air shopping destination that you’ll hear more about if you keep reading this blog. There were several shoe stores in Wheaton Plaza; we marched to the one that sold corrective shoes.

It’s almost impossible to fathom that, in that shoe store, I placed my feet, one at a time, on a device that turned out to be an X-ray machine. From there, I was shown a selection of shoes from which to choose. My only choices were brown, black, and beige. If you remember Saturday Night Live’s “Le Shoe,” you’ll have an idea what this footwear was like. Many years later, when I got my first car phone, its size and shape immediately reminded me of my corrective shoes.

The worst part of this memory, though, is remembering the pain on my mother’s face. While I was being measured for clunky corrective shoes, she couldn’t help but glance at the wall of dainty Mary Janes, before returning her attention to the choice at hand.

Brown, black, beige.


This afternoon on the balcony, I found my thoughts straying from the sad memories to other, happier ones. Suddenly, out of the blue, I remembered my great-aunt Marge — or was it Butzy? — rolling down the hill in our back yard, log-style. She seemed ancient then, but she was probably the age I am now, or even younger. And that hill? It seemed enormous, then, but now registers as only the mildest slope.

Has it changed, or have I?

I guess it’s all a matter of perspective, and of making choices about how to view things. One day this week, when I have an hour to spare, I plan to sneak away long enough to walk up the street to the park, where there’s a big hill. I’m going to lie down on my side, my hands clasped way up over my head, and roll, roll, roll until I land at the bottom, too dizzy to stand up.

And, oh, by the way? My feet are still flat.

One thought on “Heart in the Right Place

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