Today, I am wearing the boots with all the stones in them.
Cold ridges press against the soles of my feet as I tie fraying black laces over mud-splashed leather.
These are good walking boots. I know this because boots are my least favorite kind of shoes, but I don’t mind these ones. They have yellow stitched seams that forgive you like old friends. They look good clean and they look good worn, teardrops of dirt racing down their sides. They are shoes that will serve you through three of the seasons, four if you have the right socks. They are shoes to pace in, to walk to the post office in, and the shoes to step on the gas pedal in. They are shoes to get shit done in.
But today no shit gets done. I love these boots, but sometimes they are filled with stones.
There are people who tell me how to get rid of the stones. I think these people are trying to help me get to where I want to go. Sometimes, it feels like they are just trying to help me get to where they think I should go. The place they tell me about sounds really nice, though. I can picture it all in my head—a highlight reel of blue skies over gentle lake swells, the hum of a lawnmower on an easy Sunday morning, the songs of the birds trilling at dawn. Here, the only stones we have are the smooth ones we skip across the lake’s surface. I am pretty sure I want to get to this place.
It is raining outside and I am glad I am walking in these boots, even if they are filled with stones. Walking, walking, and walking. I can’t wait to get to the place where I am going. Poetry steeped in jasmine tea, light slanting in through stained-glass windows, whiffs of freshly made bread baked in a milky glaze—these are all waiting for me at the place I am going. Petting the warm underbelly of my cat—Mom, Dad, Sister packed in a car heading west for the coast—that’s all there too. No one leaves the place and no one leaves you in the place. We whiz our bikes downhill without ever having to pedal them back up. The place is good like that.
I hope I am headed in the right direction. Even if I am, the place might still be a long way away. I’m not sure if there are any other ways to get to the place.
These boots have a little trouble keeping things out sometimes. But, that’s okay. Once I get to the place, I can take them off. Everyone has to take their shoes off once they get to the place. It’s a bit like home in that way.
I hope I make it to the place and I hope you make it there too. I go, I go, and I am going. But not yet gone.
By Helen Teegan.