For as long as I can remember, I've been endlessly fascinated by other people's stories. When I go to a wedding or bar mitzvah, even if my connection to the festivities is tangential at best, I feel compelled to learn everything about the celebrating family. I want to know all their back stories -- to figure out which cousin belongs to which black sheep uncle, and which sister-in-law is the Iraq war veteran with a medical degree from Harvard.
When I see a homeless person on the street, I can't help wondering, "How did they end up there?" I want to fill in the missing parts of the trajectory from the little boy running through a sprinkler under a mother's loving, watchful eye, to the man standing on the side of Northern Parkway with a sign asking for money.
It's the storyteller in me, the reason I've spent most of my adult life dropping into other people's lives for a short while to learn their stories, and then telling them in the many magazines and newspapers I've written for. In all honesty, I think it's a bit of cowardice that inspired my professional life. I'm perpetually fearful that I'm not particularly interesting or insightful enough on my own. I prefer to be the empty vessel, filled up with the collective energy from all those amazingly interesting people I've trailed over the years, the Grammy winners and Senators and middle school teachers and good Samaritans.
And it's not even just people's stories that fascinate me. It's any story. Stories about places and things, even. When we pulled out the rusted medicine cabinet in our 1930 bathroom, I was morbidly fascinated by the cache of used straight razor blades we discovered in the empty space in our wall. (Apparently, old-style medicine cabinets had a slot in which to deposit them.) It wasn't quite as shocking as finding, say, a dead body or a dinosaur bone, but it felt almost thrilling to me, somehow. A tangible link connecting us to the stranger who'd stood in our bathroom all those mornings years ago.
Which brings me, somewhat improbably, to a blog post about a shoe.
Specifically, a slightly grannyish, black leather Franco Sarto woman's pump.
At about 5:00 in the evening on Saturday, I dashed out for a last minute run to the grocery store. And as I walked into our neighborhood Shopper's, I couldn't help but notice that there was a single shoe perched rather regally on a concrete ledge facing the parking lot. There was nobody around. Not a soul. (The store is frequented by a heavily Orthodox population and is notoriously empty on Saturdays.)
There was just this....shoe.
I had to take a picture. I just had to.
Immediately, my mind began to wander. How had that shoe -- especially just one of them -- ended up in that spot, at that moment? Where was its owner? Where was its...mate?
I know that there are all sorts of fascinating urban legend-y theories about why shoes get hung over power lines, but I've never heard anything about leaving singletons in grocery store parking lots.
And so I'm putting it out to you.
Use the comments section of this post to create a plausible (or not) explanation for the fate of this poor abandoned piece of footwear. You know it has a story. Everything has a story. So let's see what you've got, shall we?