There are days my feet hurt me. They really do. Some days I can’t walk very well. Other days are better. Today, for example, has been reasonably mobile.
I don’t know why my feet have taken against me in this way. I have always worn sensible shoes, apart from a brief flirtation in the 1970s with platforms. To be fair, they were some of the most comfortable shoes I ever owned, because so long as you could keep your balance, they were actually quite flat. It was my ankles at risk, not my feet.
For most of my adult life my feet were enrobed in Doc Martens or trainers or the kind of court shoes that have a heel no more than an inch or so high. I am person of vertical surfeit, so I don’t need to buy heels to make me taller. I can look down on most people in my stockinged feet.
It’s true that as a child I wore bare feet rather a lot. I ran about the garden and up and down the street without shoes because it was more comfortable. I liked to feel the grass or earth beneath me, or obtain solid purchase on the tree trunk as I swarmed up into its welcoming branches and dangled haphazardly over the stream. I liked the mud sucking at my feet as I waded into the murky waters on the hunt for stickleback or frogspawn. I was less fond of the leeches which clung to my feet and legs while I did this, but they were soon pulled off. My mother harangued me regularly and told me that I would regret it one day, and perhaps my feet heard her and fell for it. I don’t know.
I used to spoil those feet rotten when I was little.
I let them try on my parents’ shoes. My Dad’s shoes were particularly hilarious, as he had large, size 12, galumphing boy feet. When he wore his shoes they were so big I could stand on top of them, like a mobile stage, and we would dance around the room together until I fell off from laughing so hard.
When my mother wanted the parquet tiles cleaning in the hallway I tied bright yellow dusters round my feet and skated up and down until the floor and my face shone with joy, and I fell down out of breath from sliding fast and laughing like a hyena.
We laughed all the time in those days…
What happened, feet? We never laugh any more. Not together anyway. I hobble, and maybe you smirk at me. Doctors poke at you and make me yelp, and maybe you smirk at me some more. I don’t know. The hospital gave me insoles for my old lady shoes, which you seem to like. Perhaps you like me having to wear old lady shoes; perhaps that makes you smirk.
Or perhaps you are sad and tired, worn out from all that fun we used to have. We have walked miles together, in the same shoes, over the years. We know each other. We climbed hills and splashed in puddles and scuffed up the drifts of autumn leaves. We strolled and shopped and even marched in time to the band. We jumped and ran and danced. Have I worn you out too soon? If so, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to do it.
There are still things we can do together, don’t be downtrodden! We can soak in a hot bath with fancy smelly bubbles and posh oil with funny names. We can stretch in yoga and feel renewed. We can paddle in the summer seas, and feel the grass again sitting in the garden sipping tea instead of running about like a hot and sweaty loon. I can wrap you in snuggly socks, and paint your nails with pretty colours. Maybe for our birthday we can find a reflexologist.
I felt we had grown apart, feet, but then I realised you were just out on a limb. So let’s put the best you forward, and promise not to fight again.