Friday, April 23, 2010

The Indian Princess Dances

After that summer camp story of the Indian Princess dancing on the hot coals, for whatever reason, my childhood mind aspired to do the same.

So everywhere I went in summer months, I went barefoot.

On scorching pavement and concrete, I went barefoot.

On blistering beach sand, I went barefoot.
On patios, sidewalks, on walking trails that meandered through public parks and on the melting Macadam of driveways in front of my houses … I went barefoot.

By the time I was a teen-ager, the desire to be an Indian Princess had recessed into the imagination of childhood … and I’d forgotten the reason I went barefoot everywhere.

I just did.

I continued to go barefoot, to traipse the heat of the world’s surface, because … well, it was just a habit.

My teens merged into my 20s. My 20s became my 30s.

And I was still going barefoot, hither and yon. Whenever the opportunity arose to shed my shoes, I did so with glee, not quite remembering the reason, just knowing that I loved to be free to walk … barefoot.

Then I got married.

My husband noticed that my feet were hard and calloused. He complained that they weren’t soft and supple, like other women he’d been with.

I started wearing shoes again.

I became embarrassed about the state of my soles.

And before I knew it, my body itself was protesting the long years of my barefoot existence. My feet grew painful corns, tough ridges of skin on the edges of my heels. I could feel the real skin underneath the protective layers – but the layers themselves were actually painful.

I tried to rid myself of the problem I’d created.

I used all manner of cutting devices, even a grating device, to recreate the feet I had before the summer of the tale of the Indian Princess – the feet of a child. I had infections in my feet, cuts, sores, blisters. I covered them in antibiotic ointments, always trying to self-correct them, then always trying to self-heal them.

All lotions, creams, pedicure instruments, advice from a doctor even – nothing would rid me of what I now saw as ugly, repulsive, disgusting, painful … and worst of all … ridiculous.

I would think to myself, “All of this started because of that stupid story about the Indian princess and the hot coals.” And I would berate myself and chide myself and even hate myself for it.

What I didn’t realize, though, was that the matter was much more than about calloused feet.

It had everything to do … with a Christian safehouse.

Tune in tomorrow for the next part of the story …

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