All of the Soles

“You can tell a lot about a person by their shoes.” –Forrest Gump

Have you ever been sitting somewhere, like a waiting room or classroom, and you start to observe things about the people sitting around you? Maybe someone has a really bad dye-job, like their hair has two different colors and you just know it isn’t on purpose. Or maybe you just notice people’s regular habits, like biting their nails, or discreetly trying to itch the inside of their nose, or even that ankle-calf shaking thing that I am usually guilty of.

I was sitting in English class, dissecting an Emily Dickinson poem, and I noticed that my professor had some thick, clear tape wrapped around the toe-area of her boot. Of course now I’m curious about why it’s taped; are they just old? Did the sole break today, causing her to stumble or trip in front of her colleagues so she hurriedly taped it to get through the day? Maybe she just likes tape on her shoe – I’m not judging.

Now I’m looking at everyone else’s shoes. Our classroom is a “seminar room,” so the tables are arranged in a somewhat messy rectangle, perfectly framing the museum of my peers’ footwear.

This is where it gets a little less unusual – I see the same generic pairs of leather boots on four or five girls, two pairs of white Converse, Uggs (guilty – it’s frigid outside), and Nikes on one of the two guys in our class. One girl is wearing turquoise tennis shoes with royal blue laces and a gray sweatshirt. The hood is pulled up to cover her eyes, which are cast down. She’s reserved for most of the class, and just when you think she’s not paying attention, she contributes something no one else thought of.

Then, next to the turquoise tennis shoes are a pair of grey combat boots attached to a girl with patterned pants, mauve lipstick, and a pretentious disposition.

Last, there’s my shoes. My trusty chestnut Uggs that have stuck by me since sixth grade, walking with me all the way through high school theatre rehearsals and into a college class that sparked the article you just read about the shoes of people you and I don’t even know.

“The Feet, mechanical, go round” –Emily Dickinson