Shoeless Day

Dearest Rachel –

Yesterday, since Kris came over to clean the house (for the first time since both the kitchen and laundry rooms were completed), I stayed home from the ‘office’ in order to be there. As you well know, I don’t like having to owe people for extended periods of time – it’s one of the reasons why I’m still not entirely comfortable with our landscaping service – so I hang around the house in order to be able to write her the check as soon as she’s finished with her work. I sometimes wonder if you’d consider these sorts of expenditures to be extravagances, but I’m pretty sure that you’d acquiesce to my explanation that, given our portfolio, what we spend on stuff like this even now is as nothing compared to the ups and downs of market forces.

Then again, you might simply resent having someone else do the cleaning that you felt you were ‘supposed’ to do. Ellen tells me about some of the things you used to confide in her about – and I hope you wouldn’t be bothered about any betrayal of trust, now that you’re gone and truly unable to accomplish some of the things you meant to – the sort of tasks you felt you had to do yourself, lest you be failing in your role as a homemaker. To let someone else do them for you, in your mind… well, what’s the distaff version of ‘emasculating,’ honey? I think you might confirm this, if you were still here – of course, we’d never have gotten to this point where these attitudes would have become an issue, so there’s that, too.

Come to that, you might have taken issue with my bringing in the landscapers, as well – although probably not so much that I would be shirking my own outdoor duties (we had, after all, been considering trying to figure out how to get Daniel to mow the lawn for the last few years, only to find that he hadn’t any more strength to push the thing around than you did. We might have suspected him of sandbagging the task, like O.J. putting on his own glove in court, if we weren’t well aware of his guileless nature). In times past, you would occasionally object to my even starting in on the lawn before you had the chance to go outside and pull the weeds and pick up whatever branches had been blown onto the lawn from ours or neighbors’ trees to use as firewood. You would have been absolutely sick about the fact that most of the latter detritus has lately been simply picked up and taken to be disposed of, rather than saved for use in the fireplace.

But be that as it may, I took the opportunity to go about the entire day shoeless. Not necessarily barefoot, mind you – although I did do that for at least at much time as not – as much as simply not bothering to confine my feet in both socks and shoes for an entire day like I generally feel the need to. For a guy, sandals hardly count as shoes, if you ask me. When your toes are exposed to the open air (even indoors), though, it’s surprisingly liberating. I guess that’s why so many actual shoes for females are built that way.

We guys don’t get that option, as a general rule. It’s only in summer, when one is off-duty and clearly in a form of ‘vacation’ mode (even if only for the day) that such apparel is appropriate. To be sure, it’s not as restrictive as the bad old days when everybody was required to show up at the office wearing a tie, or worse yet, the whole three-piece suit, complete with starched dress shirt, but we still don’t have a lot of options in the sartorial realm. Then again, we aren’t compelled to wear shoes with absurdly high heels, so there are a few trade-offs, I suppose (although it’s ironic to note that men were originally the first to wear them, as a way to assert dominance of a sort; we figured out quickly how impractical that was, and turned that fashion over to the ladies, who could use them to prove they didn’t have to do any work – because in those things, how could you? But I digress… again).

It’s really something that I need to do more often, especially in the hot and muggy months like this one. Too much sweat and too little air, and one’s toes begin to stick together – it’s called ‘athlete’s foot’ for a reason, after all. I probably should also try to persuade Daniel to do likewise, come to think of it, although he rarely exerts himself to such an extent that sweat really poses a problem for him, so… I don’t know. I wish I could get your opinion on something like this.

I should mention that I didn’t just sit around the house all day, though. Even before Kris got here, I walked down to the nearby shopping center to drop a bill off in the nearest postbox. For what it’s worth, the round trip is just over a thousand steps – and no, I didn’t count them; for once, I checked my phone to confirm that number. And I might add, this was one reason why sandals aren’t the best idea for when one is out and about. By the time I was halfway back from this errand, I could feel my shin tightening up, like it was developing a splint. It’s weird; I can still remember when you were volunteering to pass out candy and freeze pops during a July Fourth parade the church had a float in, and I walked from the reviewing stand to where the float was located in the parade and back again to be alongside you and everyone else – all while wearing a similar pair of sandals – but never getting one of these twinges in my legs. Heaven help me, I guess I really am getting old.

In which case, I suppose I should ask you more than ever to keep an eye on me, and wish me luck. It seems I really do need it, even when giving myself a rest.

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I am Rachel's husband. Was. I'm still trying to deal with it. I probably always will be.

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