By Heather O.
Haiti is hot. I’m sure y’all knew that, and I’m sure y’all know what hot is, but it’s hard to fathom hot without a/c, without a break, ever, from the heat. Even the nights are hot, except for a brief moment during the rain, but even then, when it stops raining, it heats up again, only with more humidity. I knew it would be bad, and I wasn’t caught unaware, but even being prepared doesn’t make it easier to bear. Eventually, you just endure it, because you have no other choice.
Because it is so hot, wearing closed-toed shoes is sort of a joke. Who wants to be sweating in socks and sneakers the whole time? Also, who wants to have to wash disgusting dirty socks at the end of the day? The result is that even though I spent a majority of my time gardening in Haiti, I did it in flip flops. They were cool, and at the end of the day, it was an easy matter to pop them off, wash off my feet with the water from the pump, and walk around the house barefoot, which had the extra bonus of keeping our house cleaner.
It also meant that at the end of the two weeks, my flip flops were thrashed.
The part that goes between my toes kept pulling out, and I was constantly repairing them. Also, they got so threadbare that in the airport on the way home, I could feel the rivets of the moving walkway through my shoes. They are also so overused and melted that they have expanded, and are slightly out of shape and bigger, making it more difficult to walk in them. All in all, it’s time to toss them, and pull out (or buy) another pair.
I can’t bring myself to do it.
I’m not sure why. After all, I’m not throwing out perfectly good shoes–like I said, they are well and truly thrashed. And they weren’t expensive, either. I think I paid $5 for them at Target. But I can’t decide if it’s the memory of children in Haiti walking around in shoes in worse condition (or no shoes at all) or the picture of pulling sandals out of rubble that could have belonged to anybody that is keeping me from doing it. It’s silly, I know. But I wore those sandals all day today, thinking of Haiti.
I don’t know how long this will last, the wonder of small things like sandals, or of running water, or of roads that are well paved with traffic lights. I don’t know how long it should last, if there is an appropriate length of time to what people have referred to as re-entry. I don’t know if I want it to go away, the wonder and gratitude at the world. But as Mr. Bennet says, the feeling will pass, and more quickly than it ought to (or something like that. Y’all know what I mean)*.
In the meantime, I’ll keep living my life, doing the laundry, cleaning up after my dog (who vomited twice on the day after I got home. Welcome home, indeed) and loving on my kids (although Little Sister won’t physically leave my side, and after seeing kids living in such grim circumstances, the very fact that my own child is driving me bonkers leaves me with no small amount of guilt). The world continues on, and I continue with it.
But for now, I’m keeping the flip flops. Perhaps they’ve got some wear left in them yet.
* Apparently y’all DON’T know what I mean, because the wiz emailed me and told me she didn’t have the first clue as to what I was referring to. It’s from Pride and Prejudice, when Elizabeth is talking to Mr. Bennet about how her uncle laid down so much money for Lydia to marry Mr. Wyckham, and that he’s utterly ashamed of himself, because he should have taken better care of his daughters, but that the feeling will pass, and more quickly than it ought to. That’s what the heck I’m talking about. Apparently not everybody is as obsessed with P&P as I am….