I bought these hiking boots in February in anticipation of my hike on the Camino de Santiago trail in late April. For two months, I wore them every day, to the grocery store, on neighborhood walks and on conditioning hikes at Will Rogers State Park. I experimented with socks with different thicknesses to find the right comfort level. I put in special insoles. As the trip to Spain neared, I increased my walking distances – four-mile loops around my Mar Vista neighborhood, and a six-mile loop into Santa Monica and back.
Gradually, over the days and weeks, the stiff boots molded to the shape of my feet. There were no sore spots and they began to feel like a second skin. On the trail in Spain, the breaking-in process served me well. They were light on my feet and once laced tight, made me feel invincible. The boots were still comfortable on my long walks in various cities in the Netherlands. They protected my ankles on the uneven, cobblestone streets in Siena and Florence. They kept my feet dry during the steady rainstorms in Rome.
Last month, I put them on again for a hike in the Sierras and it was like being reunited with old friends. I felt invincible as I scampered across rocks and boulders. As I sat in the wilderness and looked at my boots, I realized that they are an apt metaphor for my new life.
Like the breaking-in of the boots, this year has been a series of gradual adjustments to life without Perry. I added yoga in addition to my workouts three days a week. I joined a book group and frequent the public library. I mastered the sewing machine and am working on my fifth quilt. I discovered the freedom of travel.
And now, a year later, I am beginning to enjoy the silence in the house. I even look forward to moments of solitude. Little by little, I am slowly carving a new path.