My big brother, Adam, was known for making people feel special, like they mattered. When someone felt small, or invisible, he would take the time to get to know them, have a conversation, reach out. He was the kind of kid who would take the time to walk a mile in someone else's shoes. And part of honoring his memory and trying to share his legacy with others, would be doing just that.
Yes, it's true, walking a mile in his proverbial shoes would not be fun. He was clearly homeless, pushing all his belongings in a shopping cart, and he was not properly dressed for the cold, rainy evening. So, yes, walking a mile in his life, would be hard, if not miserable. But, I mean, literally, you don't want to get assigned to walking in his actual shoes. I know you would be very uncomfortable walking in his shoes. I know this, because I bought them. And they are accidentally, a size 6.
Sooo... if I had to pick one of the most horrifyingly sad sights, it would be someone on a cold, wet city street with bare feet. I am always cold, and I quit when it's cold, and I hate being cold and being cold hurts my feelings. So when I see someone with their poor, cold grubbies just hanging out in the elements, it physically pains me. For Day 19, I wanted to buy a decent pair of men's boots that were used (read affordable) but still in very good shape, would be warm and also waterproof.
I went to the thrift shop and found only one good pair of boots. The whole bottom foot part was rubber and one full piece, so there was no place for cracks to form or for water/snow to leak in. I picked them up and looked at the bottom and saw they were a size 9. (Wait for it...)
When I got home and showed Tom the boots, he remarked that they looked really small, and I agreed that 9 is on the smaller size for most men's shoes, but that they were the only good pair, and they weren't that cheap, even at a thrift store... so, we would just have to find a guy with not-huge feet.
Then, I packed up some dinner to share with someone, including homemade white chicken chili, jalapeno cornbread, fruit and some chocolate. (The chocolate was London's
We loaded all the kids in the car and set off to find someone who met the following criteria:
1) Must be homeless.
2) Feet must be smaller than average.
3) Feet must be exposed to the elements.
Well, if you found this criteria to be quite specific, you won't believe how narrow our pool of recipients became when I looked at the inside tag and saw that they accidentally printed the size 9 upside down.
NO they didn't. That's a 6. I bought a pair of doll shoes for a homeless man.
Operation Shoe the Shoeless, Criteria 2.0:
1) Must be homeless.
2) Must be the petite-est man alive.
3) Must be willing/able to curl his tiny feet up and stuff them into these child-size boots.
And now I had to find the match to that absurd new criteria, in a city full of people who, apparently, are always committed to wearing shoes because I couldn't find anyone with their toes just out and about. And I certainly didn't see any grown men walking atop dainty, feminine feet which had been bound since birth to prevent normal growth.
I did find a reeeeeally short fella who did not have good shoes, and figured this would be the closest possible match. I approached, introduced myself and said "I happen to have a decent pair of warm, winter boots, but they are quite small, like a men's size 6... you wouldn't happen to want or need those would you?"
His response? "Oh yeah, sure, that's just my size!"
No. No, sir, it's not.
Still, he heartily accepted the minuscule boots, which I am certain are going to be ill-fitting, and thanked me multiple times as if I had given him, I don't know, something saaaay... useful and adult-sized. It was kind of a fail moment for me, but he seemed to truly believe that these boots would fit him, and I hope they do. I hope that when he sat down at night, and slipped his delicate little toddler feet into Polly Pocket's boots, that it was a Cinderella moment. No jamming or tugging or forceful shoving, no step-sisters screeching "Then I'll make it fit!" Instead, just a quiet, magical moment where the he and the grand duke exchange a knowing glance as his foot slips effortlessly into the tiniest boots ever made. And when that moment takes place, I hope he feels loved, and I hope he feels like he matters. I hope, for that moment, he does not feel invisible. And even though his feet are just a precious baby whisper at the bottom of each leg, I hope that feeling seen meant he did not feel small.
These are the boot