Don’t bring anything that’s white to Africa, they said, advice I chose to ignore as I packed three crisp white t-shirts and my favorite pair of shoes, stained, broken into, cracked Converse that fit my feet like a glove. My lucky shoes that matched every outfit and would be worn in every flight I’ve taken since 2013. My converse have walked miles and miles with me. Been painted blues and yellows by a holi festival, gray by São Paulo pollution, red by Mozambican mud, green by French grass, beige by Portuguese sand, and even once brown by dog shit on a DC sidewalk.
As I go through a weird range of emotions about my shoes getting stolen right out of my fenced-in front yard, I have to remind myself how out of touch with my community I am being. Yesterday, walking my sock and shoe-covered feet carefully through the rain and the mud, I ran into children, and grown men carefully navigating the streets filled with rocks and broken glass bottles, barefoot.
My Converse cost more than one months rent in my two bedroom house.
I’ve had multiple friends who have gotten their entire houses emptied out by theives, leaving nothing but a frying pan and some t-shirts. I have no right to be mad about someone taking the opportunity to protect their feet or re-sell them and be able to pay for school fees.
É a vida, and I might be using the thought of someone breaking into my quintal as I was sleeping as an excuse to get a guard puppy.