“Who’s Barefoot Now…?” written by Linda Willows…..Just Sweet Memories


from Linda, Just Sweet Memories

When I was a child growing up in the Deep South, my sister and me, who were always fitted with the most awful black lace-up “Stride-Right” shoes during the School Year, would liberate ourselves during the long hot Summer. Barefoot Bonanza! We joyously freed anything that hindered our adventures or threatened restriction. Barefoot, all the world is barefoot in the long hot summer!

Most of our friends on the block were allowed to wear “flip-flops” but our mother insisted that they were bad for our feet. Since we, like everyone our age, held them in very high esteem, we took to drawing pictures of flip-flops and pretended that they were ours. My sister and I had a lot of imagination and I loved drawing. I had already developed the amusement of making drawings of “life” as I wished it would be! It was fun.

Barefoot was the best indoor outdoor choice, even if I did change my outfits two or three times a day; no worries about matching footwear. I had an impulse that I needed to change something but could not quite understand what. OK, I was vain. My father thought that I was wonderful and made no secret of it.

I remember the cool moist feel of the thin grass in the front yard and the feeling of the bark as I climbed up my favorite tree; the breeze as it floated through my toes which I later learned to dance on. Good strong feet from a healthy shoe!

Both my sister and I had our quirks. She obsessed about flip-flops and eventually designed a pair for each of us made out of cardboard and string. We proudly wore them around the neighborhood. What could my mother say, she didn’t want to stifle creativity. Later, I would be stuffing those same feet into two sizes smaller Pointe Shoes with practice every day for the rest of my time. I did become the ballet dancer in the pictures.

And I, always trying to design everything, wasn’t satisfied with the grass in front of our home so I got a pair of scissors and cut the front lawn by hand, blade by blade. It was a magnificent achievement. I have no idea what the neighbors thought. I sensed that good thick grass was one of life’s important things and if you had it you get many points. (no pun intended) If it was thick and mowed I developed an admiration beyond my years. I had an eye for “edging and trimming things too” but no available instruments at that age.

I continued the practice of drawing scenes of how I would like myself or life to be. It was always pleasurable to live inside these pictures of mine. I could be anything I desired. Imagine, I became a great ballet dancer, had long, long hair was thin and perfect, (!) had lots of friends and a beautiful room with central air conditioning (no one had that in New Orleans in those days!) and a pool of course. Oh, it was a great life there in my sketchbook!

Note: I made a sketch of what my husband would look like many years before, (later when I was in my late teens) and it did look quite similar. None of the others were true – just fancy and fun. And the husband, well…it didn’t turn out. I wish that I had been able to see beyond appearances and my dreams. I did love him very much though. Some years ago the paper portrait was shredded.

However, I still am barefoot. And I love flip-flops. As soon as the weather permits, I transfer to one of about a half a dozen pairs and no one can pry me from them. I don’t live in the south anymore, I have been in so many places exploring, dancing and imagining with my bare-footedness and my heart.

Exception: when I lived overseas. In certain cultures, you may not show your toes or feet, especially on the bottom! I thought that was fair. I wore  “school shoes” to blend. One good lesson about baring your feet is to be aware of your surroundings. If you are going to bare your sole or your Soul, please try to be sweet!

©2012 Linda Willows