25
Jan
08

Slippin’ Into the Future, Part One

I’d grown accustomed to living without them. I even dated men who flat-out refused to wear them. Nothing beats walking barefoot on the beach. And hey, it certainly takes the pressure out of deciding which pair to wear everyday. After awhile, it was actually kind of liberating, really.

In the islands, wearing shoes is out of fashion. Not only are they impractical to wear in warm, tropical climates, especially on land surrounded by sand and water, but also, locals believe that walking barefoot keeps them in touch with their ancestors and staves off illness by constantly hitting reflex points on the bottom of their feet.

So it’s understandable that the most commonly worn “shoes” in Hawaii are “slippahs,” or flip-flops—thin rubber soles barely attached to your big toe by a single, carefully placed strap—something that can be slipped off easily when running into the ocean, or gingerly left by the door when entering someone’s home (shoes are “kapu,” or forbidden, inside).

This is not to say I didn’t miss wearing shoes. In fact, after 10 years living on Maui, it was one of the deciding factors in my departure.
I know that sounds superficial—and perhaps a bit melodramatic. But it’s true. The shoes I was wearing, or not wearing, had become yet another symbol of choice—another example of the many options that were sorely lacking on my little rock in the middle of the ocean. Maybe I wanted to cram my sand-encrusted toes into a nice four-inch heeled stiletto. What if I liked the feel of thigh-high vinyl zipped boots?

That’s why, as I said goodbye to my friends at the curb, and headed towards the security check at the airport, I threw my oldest, most comfortable, worn-down pair of slippahs in the trash.

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