Shoes are not worn inside homes in Cambodia. The results of this include shoes of choice being of the "easy on, easy off" variety (usually flip flops), and it usually means that you can guess how many people are inside a house based on the size of the shoe pile in front of the door.
I will admit that one of my subtle fears in living here has always been that I will come outside and my shoes will have disappeared.This week my fear came true. After my language lesson the other day I walked to the door to slip on my favorite pair of black flip flops only to find that they were gone. There is a huge gate and several parked motorbikes between the front door and the outside world, which meant that another student or teacher had walked off with my shoes. And, as soon as I looked at the shoe rack, I knew it was true. There was a pair of black flip flops sitting on the shoe rack out front, but they were not mine. They were close in size, but they didn't fit my feet properly. There were no little teeth-marks where a friend's puppy had attempted to steal them from me over a year ago. They were not mine. *sigh*
But, sometimes it doesn't hurt to walk around in someone else's shoes for awhile. Sometimes it makes us realize just how someone else feels, how they see the world. Sometimes it is really easy to grow accustomed to our own shoes, to the way they have molded to fit our feet, to the calluses that have developed in all the right places, to the comfort and familiarity. Walking in someone else's shoes can be awkward and uncomfortable, but maybe it is ok to get a little bit awkward and uncomfortable sometimes, maybe when our feet go places they have never before been, our eyes and hearts and hands will go to new places, too.
And, here's to hoping that I can swap back my shoes on Monday...