|Daniel's feet in Tony's face, driving to Florida last year.|
I've thought and thought. Frankly, this was an compelling topic for me, for I've always had a soft spot for feet. Not quite a fetish - nothing so weird as that - but an appreciation for the tender vulnerability of feet.
As a mother, my infant children's feet induced a strange, precious fascination. As they nursed, I would cup their tiny feet in my hands and marvel at the vulnerable life entrusted to me.
Those days are memories now, creeping into the nostalgic, sepia thoughts that begin with, "I remember when you were little...." and end in bewilderment, as I gaze upon young adults and wonder where the time went. My youngest - the one who just a few short years ago made a midnight trek to my bed every single night to cuddle and doze til morning - now wears shoes sized 10.5. His feet seem to be way past vulnerable, reflecting instead a gargantuan future and the sorrowful inability to share shoes with anybody else in the house.
My husband has feet that are unblemished, uncalloused. Tender. Oddly enough, his hands are rough and worn, with dirt and dust under his fingernails at the end of each day. He is a hard worker, and it has taken a toll on his body. But his feet are tender, more like those of a newborn than a 50-something man.
And they are sensitive. Diabetes has opened the door to a slight bit of neuropathy that causes just enough discomfort during the day to become pain by evening.
He crawls into bed at night and waits for me, as I check the kids, tidy up, wash my face, adjust the A/C. I walk into the room we share and my gaze falls to his long limbs stretched out across the bed, his eyes closed as he begins to drift towards sleep. His feet stick out; he is tall, lanky, and never quite enveloped into the bed until he gives in to an honest, deep sleep.
As I pass by, I cup his foot in my hand. It is the tender, protective desire I felt for my children as I watched them sleep. Innocent, vulnerable, open; I want to wrap myself around this soft underbelly, this soft skin.
He startles, every time.
Sometimes he speaks.
"Don't touch my feet, baby..."
And he drifts back to sleep.
Things change. All that we feel compelled to protect sometimes blows by on strength we never expected. What we see as necessary is often simply our own desire to reach out and touch, to reach back and grasp a time that hindsight has revealed to be of greater innocence than we ever imagined.
What is tender and exposed does not always welcome our touch.
This post is thrown out into the air thanks to the encouragement and random association I have with a group of FB/Blogging friends. We've never met, but we are like-minded souls. Together, we understand the value of life, in this order: Write, Eat, Post, Bathe. Thus far today, I have accomplished all but one of the stated goals of our self-titled group. If you would like to join our group, you probably can't.