Of Foot Gear, Sugar Casts and Flying Squirrels

I’ve never liked these boots.

Black, relatively shapeless and entirely without support, I’m not sure what it was that ever attracted me to them in the first place. An unbeatable footwear sale hovers somewhere in the distant, shadowy crevices of my mind, but I can’t with any certainty confirm it as their origin. These boots sat unloved and unworn in my closet in Madrid for virtually all of last year—maybe even for the past two—and there even came a time when I was close to jettisoning them altogether. Something, however, told me to hold on, that someday, somewhy I’d need them more than I could know. That someday has arrived.

This past Monday saw me at the offices of Doctor Neisser, braced to hear the worst about my ankle. The Friday before I’d gone to the Bundeswehrkrankenhaus to be shuttled into yet another clicky, flesh-toned, and vaguely vaginal MRI tube with the goal of determining just what the fuck is up with my troublesome joint. While waiting to be admitted I’d marveled at the sheer number of security guards, joking, laughing, striding to and fro and seeming anything but security guardy. They were so damn casual! Casual German security guards! Fascinated, I scribbled in my notebook, “Either the hospital is a far more dangerous place than I’d previously believed, or there’s something that I’m missing.” Later, when Niels got home from work he made a comment about my having spent the afternoon at the army hospital. Sheepishly, I then understood why the droves of security guards had seemed so very atypical. “Bundeswehrkrankenhaus” (Roughly translated to Army Hospital) was a six-syllable word that I hadn’t until that moment bothered to unpack.

Anyhow, Doctor Neisser took a look at the army-approved images of my left ankle and declared me happily free of fractures of both bone and tendon, concluding that what I needed was a good Air Cast and a reasonable amount of rest. For a temporary fix, his charming support crew set me up with an eerie cooling bandage and a compression one firmly over the top, and I was free to toddle off with nothing more than a prescription and orders to go pick up my sexy shank support the following day.

Here’s where the boots come in.

The Air Cast: its name is suggestive of high technology, that it might perhaps be sleek, aerodynamic, light. While at least the last of these descriptors is true, it has a profile that’s anything but slim, and clad in lowtop neon Tigers and my day-old compression bandage to go and pick it up, I had no idea how I’d ever make it out of the shop with the new medical device strapped to my calf.

“How in the world am I going to ever leave the house?” I wondered, “And what could I possibly wear on my feet that will accommodate this behemoth?”

It was then that, just like the tiniest, seemingly most obsolete of gravy ladles on Thanksgiving (Amber Hall, this one is for you) it became apparent that it was the forgotten footwear’s moment to shine: shapeless black boots to the rescue! While previously unloved and set aside for years, they’ve been cleaved to my feet for the past week, faithfully cupping the XXL sized limb that’s been swaddled in bandage and Air Cast both. The most wonderful part? Without any alterations or special tweaking, they already look like they’re made out of bandages themselves. So very matchy. Happily, when I wear them no one can even tell that I’m gimpy and outfitted in what amounts to a contraption crafted of a set of Floaties and some velcroed shin guards. I’ve been reasonably happy with the situation—and especially that the Air Cast holds a mysterious (but very pleasant) aroma of vanilla—for the last week. Too bad it doesn’t seem to actually be helping; my pain is worse, and come Tuesday or so, once I’ve taken care of more critical visa and Deutsch legality business, I’ll be visiting Doctor Neisser once more. I’m fearful that a diagnosis of a Subluxated Peroneal Tendon and a suggestion of surgery could be in my future. Let’s all cross our fingers and hold our thumbs, okay?

Despite limpiness, the ugly black boots and my sugary air cast have taken me many places in the week that’s now behind us. Tuesday, Niels and I headed to a concert at C-Club Berlin. The headliner was Bombay Bicycle Club, whom I’ve always liked but never enough to actually cop an album. After Tuesday’s performance, though, I’m reconsidering. Those boys can seriously rock out live. The real reason we went to the concert was to soothe my craving for the balmy tones of their opening act, Lucy Rose. After having discovered her a few weeks ago on a forage through the undergrowth of the many music blogs I frequent, I’d fallen in love with the misty, pealing tones of this elven UK act. Lucy Rose’s songs—all lovely, shiny little gossamer capsules of longing and earnestness—tell (mostly) prettily sad stories set over a rich, resounding backdrop of strings. Lifted upon the wings of one of the truest, most effortless and pop-ready sopranos I’ve ever had the pleasure of hearing, her songs are totally worth trying. Start, perhaps, here, with “Scar.”

Over the course of the past week, the unloved boots have also clomphopped me to our new digs in Prenzlauer Berg many times, on various tramps to area boutiques to scope singular and special homeware, to Seth for sadly unremarkable Indian food, and to a two-hour wait at the Wedding area Bürger office to declare myself a citizen of Berlin. They’ve taken me also to the Volkshochschule, where I’m hoping I can weasel into three or so German courses and get myself a short-notice Sprachkursvisum that’ll keep me by Niels’ side, if not gainfully employed.

This blog post finds us on a return trip from the most recent place the ugly footwear’s accompanied me: Niels’ parents house in Bad Pyrmont. This weekend’s was a rather whirlwind trip, planned mostly in order for us to dash through, relieve Niels’ ‘rents of any unwanted but still serviceable kitchen gadgets and haul them off to Berlin in my enormous silver suitcase. We got in yesterday at noon, Niels’ mother waiting to greet us in the train station parking lot. Clad in a gray woolen cape with her arms spread wide and an ear-to-ear grin, she had the look of a good natured, bipedal flying squirrel. I was instantly charmed. It was nice this time to be able to chat with Niels’ family in German, even if I do terribly bungle it, and even if I only manage to understand 70-75% of the time (and almost not at all in the morning). Filled with food (including two slices of German cake in one sitting, abendbrot I never should have nommed and amazing Indian food that Niels’ dad, Kanwar, made from scratch), and reasonably relaxed, we were lucky to nab a seat on this intercity train from Hannover to Berlin. Somehow the tracks got switched around and we found ourselves quite providentially on the other train that’s bound tonight for our home city, realizing the mishap far too late. Thankfully there was space enough left on this Bahn for us and we’ll make it back to a penultimate night in the temporary Wohnung in Mitte.

This weekend I also found myself feeling indescribably lucky that the man now sitting to my right and maybe or maybe not reading this is mine. As boyfriends go, I think Niels is the best there is, and I’m not sure what my world—or my heart—would’ve been without his arrival on the scene. Accepting, understanding and endlessly giving of love, Niels has done everything imaginable to make my transition here to be with him a comfortable one. His good heart and good head have seen me through many a tiny (and not so tiny) stressy meltdown, and it’s his willingness to shoulder the heavier burdens that have kept my back so miraculously low-pain for the past three months. He is always, even when exhausted, even when stretched thin, willing to put in the extra effort. He is always fair, always considerate, always loving and willing to help. He is nothing short of a miracle, and I mean that in the least cheesy of ways possible. I admire him, which is something I knew I couldn’t ever really compromise on when choosing a partner. It’s easy to respect Niels, and by his side, it’s impossible for me not to feel proud. I don’t know why he loves me, but I’m so glad he does. Also, he’s at present very sleepy and the picture I’ve included below is probably a bit unfair. If he weren’t too sleepy to read, though, he’d be blushing, so really it’s all for the best.

Another point in Niels’ favor? He’s never said anything mean about my cloddish black boots.

Anyhow, with dwindling battery power and a German book calling my name, I’ll be signing off for now. I suspect this week will provide some remedy to my German legal/labor limbic state, so I’ll update with more information when I have it. Everybody hope, and never, ever take your ugly shoes for granted.


8 thoughts on “Of Foot Gear, Sugar Casts and Flying Squirrels

  1. You’re lovely, Caitlin! I continue to follow your adventures, and must say that you deserve every bit of that sweet, sweet boyfriend. 🙂 Hugs to you!

    • This is actually a pretty good question. Err… kI think you can add me to your Google Reader. Check out the pale yellow box with the title in it “My Name Is Not María.” Below the title and subtitle, you should see two little black & white radio buttons. The one to the left that looks like 3 little radiating sunshine/heat marks? That’s the one you want. It’ll take you through the steps to have Reader deliver updates to your Google Reader inbox in gmail. 🙂 Try that, and if it doesn’t work, I’ll put my Internet Sleuth (Niels) on the case.

      Also, glad you read, and glad you’d like to keep on reading. Now you get why I’m so insufferable in any medium but text. 😉

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