I came across this beautifully resurrected, possibly neglected pair of boots thanks to an evidently observant, present, let’s call him, photographer. The photographer not only captured the hope of spring in the daffodil, effortlessly blooming inside the worn shoes of the mystery man, but simultaneously included the end of winter, after all, mystery man is surely in flip flops having transformed his shoes into flowerpots.
Before we approach the mystery man in depth, I can’t help but draw parallels between two artists, old and new. A few years ago at the Boston Modern Art Museum there was an installation by the Columbian artist Doris Salcedo. Numerous pairs of shoes were strewn on the floor, an odd glove on a chair and an old coat hanging. The stunning caption for the piece read:
‘ When a person disappears, everything becomes impregnated with that person’s presence. Every single object as well as every space is a reminder of that person’s absence, as if absence were stronger than presence’
The items sparked sharp memories in me like shards of glass, grief, longing, nostalgia and the imaginary untold. The power of that art piece is still prominent in my head and I was taken back to that room at first glance of the daffodil boots.
The boots and the art installation climb the parallel staircase next to the older late artist of literature I hold great admiration for, the incomparable Virginia Wolf.
If you haven’t read her a great deal, do. Of course her novels are both tough to read and extraordinary, yet those boots take me back to a short story of hers. ‘The Mark On the Wall’ paints the picture of a lady sitting on a bed staring across the vacant bedroom at a mark on the wall as she ponders how the mark could possibly have come about. Classic Wolf style, she explores through tangents and extensive stream-of-conscious writing as she dreams up all the wondrous ways in which the mark could have happened; first lovers moving in, a child, a fight etc. Eventually, she pulls herself off of the couch to find it to be a slug, and shrugs off the trails of possibilities that she had thrown down on the table moments earlier.
I’ve looked at this picture on an off all morning. Does he not need the shoes anymore, perhaps they were worn down from endless construction work, building high-rises for the New York elite. Maybe his upstate house hiking weekends had taken their toll on the boots and they had been cast aside for a newer fancier pair. I mildly hope the back corner was nibbled too long by the dog upstate and while him and his cute wife or husband spent the week back in their adorable Perry street apartment, the boots were placed on the fire escape because of the smell after a fight. The two made up the following day and the booties stayed out there, eventually succumbing to the weather and were filled with mud and seeds as a chance to resurrect them, thus the photographers apt caption, ‘part 2’.
Part 2. What a joyful caption in an infinite possibility of other options. I prefer part 2 so much to the opposing second chance. One thing I have always sniffed at in dismay with second chance, is that somehow you haven't learnt from the first chance, when surely you must have, or hope to have done. In this circumstance it’s almost part 3… once enjoyed by the owner of the shoes, then as the owner who nurtured the seeds, he enjoyed part 2, followed by part 3, which is for us, the viewer of spring inside the cocoon of winter as we look towards part 4, summer. Maybe that was too much.
I hear some of you screaming that they could belong to a woman. Yes, they could have, but judging by the size and style I won’t even entertain the possibility. I do feel, however, the small sign hanging on the shoes was probably placed there by a woman. On the back of that sign I’d like to think there to be a small note reading something like; we had a good run, on to the next step…or something equally cheesy.
Lastly I’d like to admit that I am glad it is a pair of boots or booties as I have become fond of referring to them as. The Boston art install showed pairs but also displayed lost single shoes and socks. Whenever I come across a lost one of something I feel a wave of sadness. So many things could have happened there. I’m always curious how long the search for the item went on for or how many blames were thrown at how many numerous people.
These little shoes, though, are together in their part 2 adventure. Off they go onto the streets of New York. I hope they make a few people smile, until they are thrown into the back of a dump truck at 3 in the morning without a second thought. My larger hope is that someone walks past, who, they themselves are setting out on their part 2, or perhaps really need or deserve a part 2 and need a little nudge. I hope they see the boots on the street and decide, finally, to plant daffodils seeds inside of themselves, nurturing them, enjoying the adventures and lessons the spring bloom offers as they take the next step.