03 January 2015

New soles and founding myths

When we moved back to England last year, I bought a pair of cheap Clark's desert boots for work. The soles have not kept up with the amount of walking I do, and after my socks getting soaked several times in the last month, I turned them over to find there were holes in them. My brother has recently bought Red Wing boots, the Iron Rangers, the ones I've wanted to get, the same ones my grandfather wore as a miner in northern Minnesota, but the £250 has been too much for me to excuse, to indulge. Instead, after two weeks of trawling Ebay and coming one click away from buying a pair from Asos, I decided to have my Clark's resoled for £29 at Timpson's. This morning, I walked to pick them up and when the cobbler in the apron took them off the wall and out of the bag, I felt a sense of relief. They looked better than I thought they would. I brushed and polished them and they fit the way boots you have walked in for several hundred miles fit.

Dry boots are a necessity; it's always raining. This January low pressure system carries with it all sorts of memories: Birmingham is further north than Niigata City, where I met Yoko in 2005, but January is the same. The rain is always on the edge of turning to snow and the sky is grey to the horizon on all sides. Some days are deceptively warm, but then the rain turns to snow and it is dusk at four, like it's been for months.

In 2005, at the end of the year, the power went out in Matsuhama, the small fishing town I stayed in. Yoko and I had been spending all our time together after we finished work and our studies, and the night the power went out, I pulled out the futon I had, both of them, and we slept next to each other like an old married couple. We slept together but didn't sleep together, something I was concerned with stressing when I was a Christian and something I am concerned with stressing now for different reasons. The story only works if we slept together, but didn't sleep together. At some point during the night, the power came on and Yoko must have gone home because in the morning, I was alone. It was snowing and I filled my kerosene heater and waited for her to text me and come back.

Sometime in the next five weeks, from when the power went out until the twenty-third of January, we decided to marry. We looked at rings at Isetan and she picked one out. It was 70,0000 yen — conservative with three small diamonds that did not rise off the band, something Yoko wanted because she worked with her hands and wanted a ring that wouldn't get in the way. I remember that point, I remember her saying that exact thing. I gave her the ring on a Monday night, on my way home from work. I just did it and we set a date to marry.

Founding myths of relationships aren't true, in a strict sense, but behave like truth when you reach back and animate them. When you are reminded and you remember what it was like to believe even if you don't still believe. Suddenly, walking up the road some thousands of miles and nearly a decade passed, it's there, all the words I remember saying, and the years that followed, one after another until now. I pull on my boots, help the kids into the car in the rain. It's raining again.

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