I never liked my feet. When I was little mother told people my footprints in sand looked like a duck waddled by. Foot shame grew as I did – shapely legs, slender ankles came to a grinding halt at an abomination called feet. Nothing dainty about them. Size 9, just about as wide, and the ultimate cruelty – a second toe longer than the first.
Growing up on a farm didn’t help the situation. Shoes came off when school ended for summer break. We called them “summer feet”, summer feet were impervious to pain. My siblings and I put a lot of effort into summer feet. The first week of vacation we hobbled gingerly over hot pavement, gravel and brambles until miraculously each of us declared the arrival of summer feet. We became unstoppable, running like the wind, oblivious to all but the sharpest misplaced nail.
Old people’s feet horrified me. Nails so thick and curled it took a saw to cut them, toes bent and misshapen, callouses glistening with a sickly yellow hue, veins swollen with time. I stared in astonishment wondering how these people found courage to don sandals. Sure it was hot, but think of the children! These props belonged in horror movies.
I buried my feet in the sand, suffered in shoes half a size too small, said goodbye to summer feet. Oh how I missed those feet of summer, but sternly told my heart letting them go was the only way to avoid making a bad situation worse. It got easier once I moved to the city, before long I was doing the ouch ouch dance on hot sand just like every other city dweller.
As time passed it started to matter less and less. I found myself looking at feet with interest rather than repulsion. Feet told me a lot about the person, they posed questions, were a window into lives. I painted my toe nails, let my feet touch grass, and swear I’ve tasted summer feet once or twice. The other day my daughter said – holy crap, look at your feet. Hardly even curling my toes I smiled inside, knowing she’d figure it out someday. Once you find beauty in feet, your eyes are open to beauty in the most unexpected of places.