As I recall I bought the espadrilles in a small supermarket outside of Genoa. They were destined to carry me many miles, through the Amalfi Coast and hitching down south, inside terrific cars and dubious trucks driven by sex-starved truckers desperate to talk to the Irish woman who appeared scattered and without destination. Those espadrilles walked miles on beaches too and rested in small cafes where the coffee tasted like tar and the clatter of delph and silverware rang int0 my ears like the drum of bells and urgency.
But I was going somewhere. At least I thought I was. I wore cut-offs and scarves in my hair. My skin held a toast of sunshine and prickly pears, when my bottom was pinched on a narrow street only to look back and find there was nothing but a sea of faces, black hair, scooters. Hostels. A chance dinner in what appeared to be a purely a living room, small tables set out, women in black, divine tomato sauce. Pompeii and grapes and Rome, horrible. Sorry. And then south to Scilla, where the beach soothed my soul, guaranteed the wearing down of the espadrilles, how the rope was wearing thin from the travel and how they still clung onto my deep bronzed feet. How I loved them. Those shoes. The simplicity. The way the rope wove itself into an intricate pattern of knots on the sole and a simple bit of plastic or whatever to hold it all together, a stitch of rope or string and canvas. My feet shone in those espadrilles, they never hesitated and then the landing on a beach, a beach in Scilla, just across from the isle of Sicily, and a man from Chicago, a native, who came back each year with his sons, to remind him of where he came from, bringing down the wine to the beach, the wine his mother made, tall plain bottles, deep red, memories of surf and purity and dreams. Tomato sauce in blackened barrels bubbling on the small winding corners of streets, bubbling cauldrons of sunshine.
The saddest thing is about this story is that I threw my espadrilles into the sea. I made it into a ceremony. I took them off my feet and stood on the pure sand and tossed them into the water and bid them farewell; I cried then. Because I knew I was letting go of something and still I suppose I was letting something back in too. Something I was afraid of but something that I knew was inevitable. The waves took my shoes out, they tried to steal back on the shore, but the current is useless down there, not like here, on the West coast of Ireland, where if you throw something away it is gone forever. Gone and lost but never forgotten.