Shoes, I’d rather not

September 7, 2009

I hate shoes.  If it weren’t for OSHA, I’d wear sandals everyday to work, even in the winter.  As soon as I come home, the first thing I do is take off my shoes (and Josh will tell you that is usually in conjunction with putting on my pajamas – I’m more of a comfort clothes girl than a work clothes girl).

My feet do not like to be cooped up.  But, I must admit that I hate to go barefoot outside.  Enter : Birkenstocks.  My dear friend from college, Melissa, was the first person I remember who wore Birkenstocks.  Now, soon after seeing her pair, I did pick up a pair of “fake Birkenstocks” which quickly became my favorites.  Soon after, I forked over the big bucks and purchase the real deal.  Wow.  Comfortable, completely and utterly comfortable.  I personally like the style with two thinner straps and no heel strap.  My feet feel supported and safe from the elements beneath but still get plenty of air & a sense of freedom.  I’ve had several pairs since those college days – but typically only one pair at a time.  Except while at work or while running, I don’t think I’ve worn any other shoes this summer.

Fall is my absolute favorite season ever and the only thing I don’t like about fall is that it means it is getting too cool to wear my Birks.  I know they make closed toe Birks but to me, that defeats part of the purpose.  I like sandals – minimal amount of shoe covering the foot.  I have a pair of Keens that are great if I’m tromping around in a creek or walking along a dusty path but they are still too restricting.  Now, I have been known to wear my sandal style Birkenstocks with socks.  Yep, totally uncool but hey, it works in a pinch.  The transition from warm weather shoes to cool weather shoes is a difficult one for me – gotta take it slow.

The last pair of Birks I bought (that got me through the past 2 or 3 summers) was with my sister Carmen in New Jersey.  We tried on a million pairs each in every color -that poor shoe salesman was a saint.  We ended up with similar pairs to those we’d worn out previously.  Some habits are hard to break.  For me, I usually don’t even care if the Birks don’t match the color or style of clothing that I’m wearing.  Shorts?  Certainly.  Jeans?  Of course.  Skirts?  Sure, who cares.  I’m kinda glad they’re not as trendy as they used to be because I wear them not for looks but for comfort and keeping my feet cool.

Bring on fall weather.  I’ll  be ready once I discover a new shoe that I’m sure is waiting out there for me somewhere.

Reflections on goodbye

September 7, 2009

Goodbyes are difficult.  No matter what the timeframe.

Do you remember going to camp during childhood?  My own experiences were likely a bit unique among all my North Carolina friends, as I’m a suburban girl.  We didn’t have “camp” in the sense of cabins and a plethora of outdoor activities.  I went to “G&T camps” (gifted & talented, and yes I know that’s sad).  To this day, I have no clue how I decided to go to these for 3 summers during middle school & high school.  None of my friends went.  I just came across this brochure & it sounded like fun.

My first one was Logic Camp.  Yes, you read that correctly ~ Logic.  Mom & Dad drove me to Western Maryland College and dropped me off with a bunch of other nerdy kids & we spent two weeks living in dorms & taking logic classes.  I think it stuck.  I tend to be a fairly logical person.  Actually, my first taste of logic class was in elementary school (which I’ve now learned is one example of how the public schools where I grew up seemed to offer far more than those of my southern friends).  We did a lot of puzzles.  You know the kind:  Mary wears a red shirt and stands next to the boy in green but not beside the one in purple, etc etc.  You end up with all the people in a line by color using the given clues.  In hindsight, I’m pretty sure that all those activities actually do help in real life.  Problem solving skills, critical thinking skills, ability to reason ~ it all started in third grade extracurricular logic classes.  And I learned even more at Logic Camp, as crazy as that sounds.

My second G&T camp was an art camp at St. Mary’s College.  I don’t remember a lot of specifics except that it was like 105 degrees, humid & there was no A/C in the dorms.  We soaked wash cloths in ice water & laid them on our foreheads with a fan blowing on us at night to help us cool off enough to fall asleep.  My final project was some sort of sculpture/mobile/shadow box contraption that represented my life – all 12 or 13 years of it.  I don’t think I got as much out of art camp as I did logic camp in terms of real world knowledge.  But, I still had fun & felt very grown up.

My last G&T camp was at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland.  My first trip to Ohio.  We were all doctor-wanna-be’s and we did all kinds of cool science/human physiology type activities and hospital volunteering.  I wonder how many other fellow campers actually became doctors.

Back to goodbye.  You get dropped off and meet your roommates.  No one knows anyone else.  You’re in 7th or 8th or 9th grade.  My point is – it wasn’t easy to take that step and leave home for 2 weeks with complete strangers.   We spent most of our time counting the days until we got to go home & sleep in our own beds, in air conditioning, with our own families and our own friends.  We felt like we were actually in college as we pranced around campus, acting far more mature & grown up than reality.

Then there’s the dance.  You know the one ~ the night before the final day of camp.  How could it be?  Is it really time to go home?  But these are my best friends.  And, there’s that cute boy that I haven’t built up the nerve to talk to yet.  I wanna stay (said in a whiney pre-teen voice).

We spend the whole time counting the days until we get to go home & then we come to the final night and none of us want to leave.  We dance into the late hours of the night. We stay up all night & put off packing until the last minute.  We promise to write daily.  This was in the days before email, cell phones, texting – we actually wrote letters.  [Big aside: I remember getting a letter from a boy at medical camp that said something about me reminding him of his idol Celine Dion.  He had sprayed cologne on it.  Needless to say, I never wrote him back.]

But, the point is – the goodbye was hard, even after only 2 weeks.

Then comes high school.  You spend four (or likely more if you count kindergarten through 8th grade) years together.  You probably only have your own little circle of friends and you don’t interact act much with the other 400  students in your senior class.  You may not even like most of them.  But, you go to class together, homecoming games, dances, club meeting, orchestra performances – you get the picture.  Suddenly, it’s time for graduation.  How could this be?  Is it really over?  Am I really leaving all 411 of my closet friends ever?  I will not survive another day without them.  The goodbye was hard, even after 4 years.  (But I am blessed to still be very close with a certain few of those high school friends, so for them, there really was never a real goodbye.)

Then comes college.  Now, this one is the true tough one.  You actually live with these people, learn with them, cry with them, pull all-nighters together (for study & for fun).  Some of us worship with them, go on mission trips with these friends, contemplate our vocation together.  College friends typically become some of the closest ones yet.  Not sure about you, but I didn’t really spend those times counting the months or years until it was over.  I know I had it good – basically no bills to pay, lots of freedom & free time, lots of hard work and studying but plenty of fun and plenty of growth and meaningful life lessons.  Pretty sure it wouldn’t make me too sad to go back.  Graduation comes again and that feeling wells up inside.  The goodbye was hard, very hard.  Four years of complete togetherness.  Very very hard.

We’ve all had numerous other experiences since those college days with goodbyes.  The job you worked for just a few years, but long enough that you grew close to some co-workers (and thanks to Facebook might even still keep in touch with them).  It was hard to say goodbye even after such a short time.  The vacations where you met a cool brother & sister who grew up in Greece & offered lots of hospitality and plenty of amazing conversation, but the goodbye was hard after only a few days.  The building teams to poor rural areas of Guatemala where you barely knew anyone’s name but the people in the village all came out on your last night to pray and cry and say goodbye.  That one was hard too.

And I’m not even going to start writing about saying goodbye to loved ones when they die.  Not even going to go there.

All of this is to say that no matter what the timeframe, goodbyes are always difficult.  It’s something that I think about a lot and something that seems so universal.  I’m just not looking forward to one big goodbye that is inevitable in the next few years:  my beloved Crash & Boomer are becoming old men and I know what lurks behind another day and I’m dreading it.

Goodbyes are difficult.  No matter what the timeframe.