Sunday, July 18, 2010
I have been foraging. There is something in me that loves a found object. Fortunately it is mango season and the trees are dripping with great green teardrops. I found a carambola tree accessible through a family's gate, when they weren't home and had left the gate open. But then I realized the neighbor across the street was always watching through those slatted windows they have here to keep out the light.
It has become my goal to eat only fruit I have picked. I step hesitantly at first and then brazenly into those margins I'm able to trespass, as someone who owns no land and is here temporarily, without claim. This is partly because the mangoes in the local colmado cost two dollars. I think they come from the Dominican Republic. I think only the tourists buy them now. They are piled high, they have been ripening slowly, and now they are turning an unusual shade of peach.
In every place I have traveled, without trying, I have come across solitary shoes. I have seen many ordinary shoes and some beautiful shoes. These, too, I want to pick up and carry home. I am planning a photo essay entitled “One Shoe.” But I haven't started it yet because I keep thinking, What would be the point? And then I think, one shoe is one of the most useless objects imaginable. I love shoes, like my mother and grandmother before me. I really want to find the other shoe. I search for it among the plastic bottles and seaweed, farther down the road, back among the trees.
I recently read about people who run barefoot. I had no idea that running shoes can actually hurt your feet. It made me think about the other day when I rowed to shore to take a walk and forgot my shoes. I decided to walk without them. I started up the hill and for the first half hour I kept thinking about how radical it seemed. When I returned to the dock, my feet felt perfectly fine, but my mind was still reeling a little. The sensation of unraveling received knowledge—and, not to be so grand about it, habit—seemed to be a feeling of nakedness. What else don't we need? My mom used to say—maybe she still does—that I was “cavalier.” I knew exactly what she meant. A sort of overly casual attitude, a tendency to want to take shortcuts. Now, with some extra maturity, we could move over one romance language and say I'm going for sprezzatura—careless ease. Trying very, very hard to make something look easy. And then, gradually, it is. Oh, the delicious lightness of a free ripe mango.