Saturday, January 22, 2011

No Bad Weather, Only Bad Shoes

When I taught English in Moldova as a Peace Corps volunteer a few years ago, my students would remind me, “There is no bad weather, only bad clothes.”
Today was a good clothes day.
[Imagine I took a photo and posted it here: light caramel cardigan with asymmetrical ruffle detail and raised seams, and a pink tank top with scooped neck with tiny flat ruffle fringe, both from last weekend’s Banana run; and a pair of black Calvin Klein jeans, from Coeur d’Alene Goodwill. This might sound like too much ruffle, but in truth they echoed nicely.]
My problem was bad shoes. Dansko clogs were no match for the slick sidewalks. Wily water! Looked like rain. Felt like ice.
Last week I also had shoe problems. I wore my biker boots even though I knew they weren’t waterproof, so the slush seeped in. I thought I had an extra pair of socks in my desk (no), or that the campus bookstore would sell socks (no longer). We missed our transfer bus, so we had enough time before the next one to browse the ceramic knickknacks, notebooks, do rags, slippers and socks. These socks were divine: orange, synthetic, broken out in a rash of hearts and flowers,  “Cutie” in yellow cursive at the top. 
The students and I spent a contemplative afternoon at St. John the Evangelist, where we walked their canvas labyrinth, a copy of the one in the floor of Chartres Cathedral.
We learned that "labyrinth" is not synonymous with "maze," though they’re often used interchangeably. A maze is a puzzle, with many dead-ends. A labyrinth doesn’t trick you, at least not on purpose. It leads you along one path into the center and back out again.
This difference reminded me of a Sunday School lesson in which the teacher explained the difference between jealousy and envy. You can only be jealous of what you already have, she said. You envy what someone else has.
After all of those lessons, among all those crafts and songs with hand motions and flannelgraph Jesuses and Pharoahs, who can say why this fine semantic shading has stayed with me so clearly?

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