These are the shoes that carried me through my tragedy.
These are the shoes I was wearing when I ran by the canal and threw up. That I threw on in the middle of the night when I couldn’t stand to be anywhere with walls. That carried me away from danger when the idea of getting on the computer and buying a plane ticket got to be too much.
They’ve been crapping out on me for a while but I didn’t want to get new ones for some reason. Felt like it would be letting go of something important. Wednesday, in the gym, my trainer finally told me it was time to get a new pair in “serious voice.” My feet kept sliding around as I was jumping up onto a bosu ball. Almost fell over. He said if that kind of thing kept happening I was begging to develop knee and ankle problems.
So, I went to the store and got some new ones. It was a fancy running store my trainer recommended. I explained the situation to the sales clerk, or as much of it as I could politely without emoti-dumping. Think I did awkwardly choke up at one point, for no apparent reason. After examining the wear pattern on the bottom of my shoes he brought me out a new pair.
My feet are 3/4″ less wide than they used to be.
I think that number means more to me than any of the others.
I’ve lost so much weight that even my feet are thinner.
And there’s more to go. This last stubborn bit. I’ve been fighting with it for months, made a few pounds of progress, but this time I’m going to kill it. I think it’s the last bit of the Fat Man that’s buried in me the way I used to be buried in him. Buried in a place so deep I can’t even feel it. He’ll always be there, inside me somewhere. I can accept that, now. But this last bit of him on the surface… this finger of his probing the surface of the grave. That can go. I can do that much.
I’ve got a box with him inside of it. The shoes are going to go in there. Along with his biggest pair of pants. His biggest shameful shirt. His glasses. The stupid love-letters he wrote and never sent. The very few items she ever sent to him. The items he latched onto and imagined meant more than they ever did. When he wanted to believe her “I Love You’s” weren’t really “I Love that You Love Me’s.”
God, that was hard to accept.
That’s the bitterest pill I’ve ever swallowed.
The few people in my personal life I’ve broached the subject with (none of whom know how bad it was, or any particulars) keep trying to tell me I was never really in love. People hate sad stories. People hate that the universe works that way sometimes. That you can love someone, completely and sincerely and that all they feel for you is a yawn and desire to take your attention, sometimes.
I find I want to believe it sometimes, because if I was never in love then that means I was never hurt. I was never pathetic. I was never a crying petulant child. And sometimes, late at night, even to be the person that pain happened to is awful. Even though it feels like it happened to someone else now. For all the Me/Him stories I tell myself, I was hurt so badly that the scar warped the whole fabric of me.
I know of few people who have ever hurt so badly they honestly couldn’t bear to be themselves.
So, my shoes. They’re going in the box. There’s part of me in the shoes. A very important part. The part that was me running toward something. But there’s also part of him in the shoes. The part of him that was running away from something. The shoes in a way, represent the moment of transition. I’ve got to throw away a little bit of me to get rid of that last little bit of him.
So be it.
Into the box.
I call it the Edro Box or the Kvothe Box. I admit I’ve stared at it wondering what it would take for me to go back to being him. I can think of two things. Neither of them likely to occur. The kids probably aren’t going to die prematurely and she’s not ever ever going to show up. The first one, I think, will perhaps always be true. The second, maybe for a few years. And even then I don’t know if I would ever be him, exactly. I would be Other Andy. The person I was becoming before March 11th. It would not be an easy transformation, it would probably be even harder and more painful than the first, but it would be possible.
But I am safe.
I am completely, totally safe.
Neither of those things are going to happen.
So, another leap forward, in my new shoes.
In the next two or three weeks, knock on wood, I am going to have a house. Finally. The most powerful force in the universe, namely paperwork, is in motion. I will be part of the lives of the children but no longer a primary caretaker. I will be on my own. In the silence. The last time I was alone with silence like that I did great works. Clumsy works. Sloppy works. But great works. Popular works.
I think I might just be able to do that again.
End of January, the publishing schedule starts.