Breakfast and Shoes

I ate my breakfast on the bus this morning. I’ve been doing that lately, carefully slathering two slices of locally baked rye bread with the cranapple butter that my friend left for me when she moved, then packing it all into my lunch bag and walking to the bus.

There is a swath of grass and a pond in between where two roads coalesce into one. I cross there every morning, inspecting the damp grass for frogs or more likely, geese poop. A trail of stones cuts through the green. Stepping across the heavy, grey slabs make me feel dainty.

Then up the hill, crossing at the lights and then again at the next intersection. Finally arriving at my stop. My work changed locations this year, so although I wait at the same intersection, the view is different. My former stop was along the busier of the two roads, waiting there in the morning light, the thrum of the city could be felt all around. The new stop is located on a main street but the pace slows because of the divide further down that I cross over. The stop faces a building with a mural of the queen visiting and waving at passersby. I often wonder how long ago the monarch graced my city with her presence, or whether the painting is an elaborate, hopeful figment of an artist’s imagination.

The bus arrives. Late. But I am late so the coach and I are friends. The driver recognizes me now and gives a smile as I step on. Quickly, I find my seat, bus surfing is not my forte and frequently ends with an “EEEEEeeeeee” as I go flying towards the front doors through the aisle, having lost my balance when it shifted into motion.

Sitting down, the city passes before me, the pawn shops, the closed storefronts, the meth clinic, the used car dealers and finally green trees hanging over quaint homes. The bus ride meanders from bad, to struggling, to quiet parts of town. Often I read. But sometimes I inspect the mixture of humanity around me while I eat my breakfast. Noticing people’s shoes, their hair, various body art they’ve adorned themselves with.

A person’s shoes tell you a lot. In poorer countries, it isn’t uncommon to not wear such things. Even here in the great white north, shoes are expensive. Steel toes means construction, trade or a job where heavy objects could fall on feet. Holes can indicate either poverty or comfort of a beloved sneaker. The grey, aged kind of dirty combined with holes marks a person who struggles, often worn by skinny people whose skin has a grey tinge to match their footwear.

My leather, orthopedic Mary Janes tell my story; I have never wanted for food or a roof over my head, I am well cared for, so much so that even the health of my feet is a concern. These are my thoughts as I carefully chew my breakfast, half lovingly provided by one of the many people who cares for me.

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