I have lived my life in avoidance of sandals. I have worn shoes with tops on them for all the years that I can remember. I am innately suspicious of shoes that are, in effect, incomplete. Why should I be wearing - no wait - paying for footwear that does not properly cover my toes, my heels, my high arches? Part of my struggle was most certainly the lack of security one feels when wearing flip-flops. In my youth, and today in Australia, these shoes were known as "thongs". I made a promise to myself that I wouldn't wear anything on my feet that might also be worn as an undergarment.
That was until this past week. For more years than I care to remember, I have suffered from an ingrown toenail. Ever since I was twelve years old and had an unfortunate collision with a heat register, the nail of my right big toe has been a wild, mismanaged mutant of a thing that requires near constant monitoring and careful hygiene. To make a long and somewhat disgusting story just a little less so, the condition of my toe became such that wearing a conventional (in my case Converse high top) shoe became not only impractical, but extremely painful. After gutting it out for several days, it became apparent that I would not be able to keep up with my family on our spring vacation unless I lost my toe, or my perverse avoidance of these quasi-shoes.
I have now spent the last day and a half wandering the highway and byways of Southern California in my snappy new velcro-attached sandals. Air rushes over the top of my feet and toes, and I cringe in anticipation of my soles falling away. My toe, meanwhile, is healing nicely, but the psychic wounds that I have inflicted upon myself have left me looking forward to the day that I can once again pull my socks on and lace up as God intended.