Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Filling Shoes

These were painted by Claire Crowley. Not her best work, I'm sure, but the one I have. When I was in high school and college, Claire was one of my best friends. She was really quite marvelous - artsy, edgy, smart, quirky, beautiful and kind. Then, accidentally and suddenly, she died, ripping an enormous hole in my world.

Slowly such holes are filled, as they are meant to be. We fill them by living more intensely and richly - tasting and breathing the wonders of the earth that our absent friends no longer have. We fill them with other friends, who also are rare and precious, and only on loan to us. Finally time fills the holes. I am middle-aged; Claire was barely a grown woman. When more time passes, I too will be gone.

I painted my shoes first. I knew a girl who had painted a pair of work boots with dreamscapes and icons from album cover art. My canvas shoes got decorated in acrylic paints, probably with clouds, rainbows and pine trees, because that's who I was then. I worked at Y day camp, and the kids there liked my shoes so well that I got a couple of commissions. It seemed like a successful venture, so Claire and I were going to launch a business. We spent a whole day working on it. Girls of that age have the attention spans of butterflies. I painted a pair of men's 10 1/2 dark blue deck shoes. I painted the planets of the solar system not to scale, with both sides of the earth. Claire painted these, much smaller than her own feet, with lady acrobats juggling orbs.

I grew up and had two sons, and my sons grew up, and the second son wore the shoes I painted, and wore them out. These shoes have never been worn.


  1. This is very touching, and a lovely memory of your friend. Some people leave our lives much too early, but they never leave our hearts.

  2. Touching post Barbra,, I know exactly what you mean by each sentence here... they are always there looking over us..hope these shoes are cherished for ever..

  3. Barbara, it's a breathless story, I read it several times, I know you better, now, and I like that.Thank you!

  4. a cathartic cry this brought on