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Homes Away From Home

More proesia for the unerring sole
This piece is a contribution to the STSC Symposium, a monthly set-theme collaboration between STSC writers. The topic for the upcoming issue is Home.

My running shoes rest beneath a shaded windowsill, rooted like anti-flowers in gloom. I wonder how much of my abode they’ve imbibed, how much apartment carpet they’ve consumed. There are more in the closet; these are just the present pairs I use. I save their siblings from the summer months, for when torrid turns chilly and my feet feel abused.

Regardless we go gliding, stride right out the door. I wonder next on the turf of the trails: did I bring shoes with me or did I bring something more? I feel at home in these trainers. Cushy or contact-driven, they affirm my ease of heart. I’m traveling with friends that I’ve lived with, who bring the house in their soles when out we depart.

There’s nothing truly foreign or fearful to an untrodden trail. I may never have been, but every run is adventure, and shoes I’m at home in transition smoothly into the vale. What’s more, they’re alongside me every step of the ride. What better training partners can I ask for but those who can match me stride for stride?

So we three wend our way, through dirt and gravel and timbery skein. Forty-foot pine palisades or acres of parkland bear us through the twisty miles our lane. Over bridges, uphill, and down sunny stretches of walk. We run grass and bendy riverside, make the pluming birds chitter and talk.

By the end of an odyssey, I might be tired, heavy and sore. My faithful footwear is huffing; breezy maybe, but sweaty shoes have to fill up their pores. They do so gladly, their efforts to keep me aloft—no wonder Nike has the Air Pegasus and every shoe woven with Flyknit to keep one guiltily haunting their trough.

I jog back to shuck my shoes, loosen the laces so the heel cups stay intact. They fall back in line or go out to air, sometimes get hosed or clapped together in fact! But through every run, rollick or rinse-off, the experience is embedded the same. My shoes picked up miles, carried impressions, yet never forgot feeling like the place whence they came.

It’s a strange, inspiring fusion out there in the world, working to move in ways I can feel sure of amid all certainty’s break. It doesn’t hurt that daily my feet can choose a cast, lived-in comfort, homes whose memories right me and support the steps I take.