I have a host aunt, a tante, who is visiting my family from Borneo. She doesn’t speak any English, and my Bahasa Indonesia isn’t good enough yet to have extensive conversations with her; but I love her, and she thinks I’m strange and hilarious (I assume from her constant laughter at everything I do.)
When I came home from training yesterday, I removed my shoes as usual before stepping on to the porch to sit with my family, have a cup of coffee, and talk about the day’s gossip (Indonesians are even more gossipy than I [admittedly] am, so this is one of my favorite parts of the day). My tante immediately stood up from her seat, walked over to where my shoes were parked, and stuck her toes inside.
These are no incredibly special shoes. They’re a light blue pair of Old Navy flats that I bought right before my trip because they’re cheap and comfortable; yet something about them struck my tante’s giant, energetic eyes, and they’re hers now.
We were all laughing about how she wanted them and how they fit her, and now the shoes are hers. In the worst language-barrier moment since my wedding-crashing of night one, I gave this woman my shoes. I thought we were all just joking around, but nope, they’re hers now. They’ve been packed to head off to Borneo, never to be heard from again, while I have been left with one less pair of shoes to last me the next two years, and another reason to laugh-cry to my best friend back in America via videochat (sometimes, that’s really all you can do when you have next to no control over what’s happening in your life.)
In their place, I have been gifted a pair of bubble gum pink pajamas with a 3-dimensional yarn kitten on the front. I wish I was making this up. My tante traded me a pair of shoes for one of her pajama sets. I can’t even be mad because of the laughter it caused when I donned the jammies for a fashion show, which, of course, turned into a photo shoot.
Because sometimes, the price of a memory is one pair of blue shoes.