Monday, September 16, 2013

199. Taking Your Boots Off

You've been walking all day. 

One foot goes in front of another. Up steep rock ledges. Down slippery, muddy descents. You move, you progress, you make your way through the world by way of one simple mode of transportation: your own 2 feet. 

You've already been hiking for 17 miles today, and your feet are screaming at you from inside your boots like a pair of sassy, angry and entitled people at a returns counter, and you are the costumer service agent who has to calmly and deliberately remind these idiots that no, if they disassembled their xbox and cleaned it with a wet sponge, it is simply not covered under warranty. They wail and claw at their hair and cause a general hullabaloo, their cries growing to a pitch that makes dogs 10 miles away sprint directly into brick walls just to escape the horrible nightmare sounds. This is what it feels like inside your boots. It is not a happy place in there.

Fortunately for you, your feet have to do what you tell them to do. you are still physically capable of moving forward in space. You are a hiker, and though you do your best to take care of your body, there's simply no way around the fact that to undertake this journey your body will have to sustain some level of abuse. So you move on. Before you started the trail, you somehow got the idea that your feet would quit hurting after a while. The "while" was never really defined well in your brain. A few days? A week? A month? 

After 2 months had passed, you began to wonder if your feet would ever stop hurting. Who was that knucklehead who told you that you'd have no more pain after you got past a certain point? You fantasize about finding that person and giving them one good solid slap across the face with one of your mangled feet. It does not bother you that the physical act of slapping someone with your foot would be quite difficult and awkward and probably not at all effective. This does not keep you from daydreaming about it with relish. 

Every hiker experiences foot pain or irritation differently. Some symptoms are acute (shoes being wet from a river crossing, mud collecting around your ankles, getting a rock in there) and some are chronic (blisters, and a veritable pantheon of muscles and bone injuries). There are solutions and remedies for each one of these, and they can be discovered through trail and error, scouring WebMD, or politely asking another hiker what the eff to do about these crazy feet, seriously, what the heck, amputation seems like the only survivable option. 

There is one universal antidote for all of these things, and lucky for you, you can do it at least once a day.

Taking off your boots.

Your fingers get all tangled up while trying to untie your shoes in their excited anticipation. You don't care how muddy or filthy your laces are, you dig your fingers in there all the same, transferring some of that trail dirt to your fingernails, where it will be later transferred to your mouth when you eat dinner. It doesn't matter. You're going to get those shoes off your feet if it kills you. The laces finally come undone, you pull up on them to loosen their hold on you, and the shoe finally slides off of your foot.

You've never worn a legitimate Victorian era corset before (or perhaps you have, in which case, you are very brave), but you imagine that this is how it must have felt for those short-of-breath fancy women to have their ribs finally unbound at the end of the day. A stink cloud explodes outward and washes over you like tear gas, but you grin blissfully through the fog of smelliness. Your sense of smell is not at the top of your senses list right now. Right now it's your sense of free feet. Your foot seems to expand in front of you, relaxing and making some movements toward returning to its rightful shape. 

You gingerly peel off your soaking wet socks, which, depending on the last time you did laundry, may retain the shape of your feet, like a ghost is wearing them. You toss the socks aside. You'll deal with that nonsense later. At this moment all that matters is the sensation of freedom. You gently massage the bottom of your feet, easing them back to their proper temperature. They might have been boiling hot a moment ago, or freezing cold, depending on what your hiking weather was like that day. But now they are perfect, like a pair of baby birds resting in the nest of your hands. You think about that metaphor for a minute, and realize that if baby birds looked like feet, it would be a very strange world indeed, but you let it slide, because you are delirious from how great it feels to have your shoes off, and thinking of perfect metaphors just isn't important right now.

You let yourself bask in your stinky relaxation cloud, knowing that you have other tasks ahead of you for the evening, but letting them slide away for the bliss of letting your feet air out and rest. Your feet need this rest. They need your love. You forget for a minute that tomorrow you are going to cram them back into those shoes again, because it doesn't matter. 

You are living in the moment, and in this moment, your feet are kings.

Clever Girl

200 Terrific Things

1 comment:

  1. The great thing about the 200, is that any one of these is probably someone's #1. Boots on the ground... Love, Mom and Dad