My Red Naots

Sole Sister:KELLY
Windsor, Canada

My mother was raised Christian (protestant, to be more precise) and my father, who died when I was small, had been the only one in his family to turn his back on their Catholicism. My brother and I were not forced to go to any church. Rather my mother made the offer to drive us to the synagogue, mosque or church of our choice, or to none at all. Thinking more about the discomfort factor of stiff and shiny black patent leather shoes, I opted to sleep away my weekend mornings, managing to shrug off the invitations of elderly neighbours concerned for my soul, which they were sure was headed to Hell thank to my mother’s failure to take us to Sunday School.

As a kid growing up in Arkansas, I didn’t like to wear shoes at all and would kick them off as I could get away with it.  Up through high school, one had to be shod on the school grounds. If I were going to have to wear shoes, I was happiest in clogs. When I noticed that the cool girl in band class always had a pair of argyle knee socks under hers, I asked my mom for those, too.

In university, I found that the administration and profs did not care if I came to class with nothing more than toe rings and ankle bracelets on my feet, so it was back to being barefoot much of the time.

Two years into my four-year degree, I decided I’d had enough of formal education; it was time to see the world. Among the survival equipment I stuffed into a rucksack for my hitchhiking adventure across Western Europe were two pairs of shoes: size 38 black cloth Chinese Mary Janes and a pair of sneakers. It didn’t take very many miles before I found myself sitting in the shade of a bridge rummaging through my possessions for ways to lighten my pack. I ditched the one book I had brought along and left my tennies there under the bridge for someone to find—a decision I would come to regret when summer turned to fall and the nights cold.

During my year in Japan, I wore plain, unpolished wooden geta with two velvety black straps. They kept my feet dry even through deep puddles. I also purchased a pair of black cotton boots with a series of tiny brass clasps up the side and a cleft between the first and second toes. Construction workers wear these to give them better balance as they walk the scaffolds like nimble goats. I thought they would catch on like wildfire with my hip young friends in America and was tempted to buy dozens of them to turn a profit back home. When I tried wearing them around Sapporo, however, my friends and well-meaning acquaintances gave me stern looks of disapproval, explaining that even a construction worker would never wear them off the job site, as it would tip people off to his social class. The sight of them on the feet of a young female foreigner was just more cultural dissonance than they could bear.

I did finish up my B.A., much to my mother’s delight. Not so much to her delight, I proceeded to drift through a series of administrative jobs that had little to do with my education in linguistics and foreign languages. I was happy, though, to be able to wear Birkenstocks—socks underneath in winter—to my first job as a library clerk and my subsequent job as office manager of a small independent bookstore.

Ten years ago I had an Internet romance that brought me to Canada. As I was sucked into cubicle land and a series of administrative jobs in insurance, I was determined to buck the expectation to wear pumps in the office. I’m a flats kind of gal, and that’s that.

When I saw and tried on Naots for the first time, a shoe love affair began that has lasted to this day. This pair of red leather Mary Janes has been with me for six or seven years now. I wear them with tights and a mid-calf length skirt to art house film screenings, folk music night, and to meet a girlfriend for tea at the local Bohemian café.

These shoes have taken me to lectures at Perimeter Institute and to Heritage language classes on Saturday mornings—where I sat alongside brown-eyed, black-haired eight-year-old children who were there to learn the Farsi language and Persian culture of their parents and grandparents.

They didn’t seem to mind me—tall and blond and overflowing from the tiny chair-desk.

Maybe it was the shoes.
Post Script: Kelly and her red shoes recently returned from Toronto, where she realized a life-long dream of taking her career in a direction that would allow her to make a difference in the world. Armed with her new TESL certificate, she hopes to begin teaching in Windsor this year.

My Red Naots

~ 3 Beautiful footprints: ~

Susie of Arabia says:
at: Tuesday, April 06, 2010 said...

Kelly - I really enjoyed reading your history of your love-hate relationship with shoes. The red leather Mary Janes are something I would also be most comfortable in -they look to be a shiny fuschia on my screen and are most captivating. Best wishes with your new job in Windsor!

Salma says:
at: Thursday, April 08, 2010 said...

Thanks for sharing I have a better idea of who you are my dear.

Comfortable shoes are very hard to find (as I said before), Iman was just in awe of your naots when she saw the picture on the screen.

at: Wednesday, May 19, 2010 said...

I had the exact style of Naots and LOVED THEM! Lived for them in a summer waitressing 7-10- hours a day and never looked back! Love those shoes! Are they still available? I'm inspired, going to the Naots website right now!

Copyright 2010 The Sole Sisters Collective Blog & its contributors. All photos belong to the contributors, unless otherwise stated.




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