As I get older, I’m noticing more and more physical similarities between my immediate family and myself. Our feet for example. We all have almost the exact same feet: Toes evenly proportioned, our second toe is not longer than our big toe, our nails are thin and delicate and perfectly cover the tip of each phalange. Our feet, when properly manicured (which rarely happens) could quite possibly be model feet for a lovely pair of open toe heels, or flip-flops on the beach. There are no webbed toes among us, which is one of the attributes I adore about my husband’s own feet. (I secretly think they have something to do with why he’s such a good swimmer.)
It was my husband who first said I had pretty feet. I was 25 years old, and on the phone with my sister. While jabbering away Tony was playing with my feet and toes. As I playfully kicked him off he said, “You have beautiful feet.” I smiled at him and then intentionally looked at my feet, perhaps for the first time. Hmmm, I shook my head and shrugged. I saw nothing special. So what did he do? He gently placed a match between my toes and lit it. Smilingly, we both watched it burn. As I listened to my sister on the phone, I half-thought, “He’ll blow it out.” But when the flame reached my skin I reflexively flung the phone and kicked up my foot. He jumped in surprise as much as I did. “Why?!” I asked him – half shocked, half laughing. Hot Foot was the term I think he used. He honestly thought I’d shakeout the match before it burned me. Some joke. I was laughing when I told my sister what had happened. She was quiet. Silly newlyweds, she probably thought.
When my sister and I were growing up, our mother always walked around barefoot, she still does. In fact, I remember my mom more out of shoes than in them, and she has a lot of shoes. I think because it was so normal to see our maternal figure walk in and out of the house barefoot, my siblings and I did the same. In fact, our whole clan walks around barefoot. “Bunch of Okies,” my grandma would say, then she’d fling off her own shoes. She was after all, the original Okie who migrated from Chickasaw, Oklahoma to Oakland, California in 1944.
More recently, I was at my brother’s house to meet his new baby – my niece, Julia. While admiring petit Julia’s adorable little smile, she dropped her blanket. Stooping down to pick it up, I saw my brother’s bare feet casually resting on the sandstone of his pool area. As I nonchalantly gazed at his feet and then mine, I realized for the first time that we have the same feet – only his are bigger and male. Where my feet are soft and supple his are a bit rougher, harrier and more tanned. Let me tell you – he has got some handsome feet! I almost laughed out loud, but resumed admiring Julia instead. Right now you’re probably thing, what in the world are you talking about!?
Honestly, I think over the years I have become so different from my family that I am unconsciously looking for similarities. This may sound sad, but it’s not. I love my family, each and every one. They’re a special bunch and I can appreciate all of their peccadilloes. But it seems the more we live our own lives, the less alike we become.
Before I moved to the Pacific Northwest, and when I was making good money at UC Berkeley, I often treated my mother and myself to a day at the spa. Casa Madrona in Sausalito, O-Spa in Alameda. Once, we both got pedicures – a first for both of us, and we just so happened to choose the same color nail polish for our toes. When we were outside we both stopped to admire each other’s freshly polished tootsies, and then we laughed. “To think, some people do this all the time.” My mother mused. “Man it tickles!” I said, shivering. Then we walked together arm-in-arm, in matching flip-flops, with matching feet, wearing almost-matching black outfits.
For fun, I’m thinking the next time we’re all together, I’d like for us to strip off our footwear and pose our feet for a photo-op. I’m sure they’ll think it’s a bizarre request, but they’ll acquiesce. After all, we’re family.