I landed in Shanghai two weeks and a half ago, I was wearing my beloved black Camper shoes, the ones that make me look like a clown.

I had being teased for weeks by Trugglet for not being able to make up my mind on which footwear to pack for my European trip: I am also going back to Italy, where people are going to decide whether I’ve turned into a barbarian by examining the way I eat, what I wear, but, especially, my shoes.

I took them off for a quick nap in the airport, already regretting the heavy leather, unsuitable for a mediterranean summer, or so I thought. Spora welcomed me in Paris and took me home on her Vespa, shaking her head at the sight of shoe pair #2, an uncanny and unoriginal duo of black flats, which made me very tired of walking on the hard ground in and around the Marais and the Centre Pompidour.

It was then with a great deal of genuine relief that I finality upgraded to a pair of high heeled leather sandals, to drive which I still have to get a proper licence after a bit of professional training with Spora, who now does it as a full time job: teaching how to walk on high heels without killing yourself, without making a fool of yourself but, most of all, with elegance, femininity and ease.

My new sandals needed: an inner patch on the sides to avoid trimming my little toe, further holes on their ankle belt, proper paraffin soles to avoid constant slipping and sudden death. Two chores out of three have been accomplished, the most important task, though, the sole remaking, is still pending. Shoe repairers in Provence (my trip goes on, good bye Spora and UnaSnob, hello family) couldn’t be bothered.

I don’t like risking death, though, so, for now, I am wearing:

  • shoe pair #4, another pair of Camper, white, summery and (clownishly) light or
  • shoe pair #5, beautiful french silver Bocage sandals, 8 cm heels, bought in Melbourne (I know, it doesn’t make any sense).

The latter are very silverish, have very low back strap (it always ends up under my heel) and, if worn without (black, matte, please, of course) stockings, still give me blisters.

Ah, blisters, the curse of the soft-skinned, the summer plague, the exit from Eden. You, woman, shall walk in pain until the end of time. Half of the shoes sold out there slice my feet even if I only think of wearing them, the others are more subtle, and deceiving: they pretend to be well built and soft, only to start rubbing and blistering and hurting when it’s too late, I’m in the middle of my day, can’t go back and am almost bleeding.

Camper shoes give me a temporary relief, the day after a violently blistering episode, but I need sandals, so I explore Annecy’s centre (goodbye family, hello animation festival) and get black sandals, a bit of heel, beautiful design, THE pair of shoes of my life. I know, I say it every time, of every house I rent, of every boyfriend I fall for, of every pair of shoes I get: now I don’t need to look any further, this will be forever, I feel I can be myself here, I feel this is perfect for me, it feels so good… oh, wait, it’s hurting a bit now, OUCH! Blisters again, blisters, every time.

When my skin recovers while my heart is still convalescent I go for another quest: dear Annecy,would you please find me a pair of traveller’s sandals, flat, easy, chic?. They have to be: both thongs and sandals, because I have broad and thin feet and I always slip out of shoes; wearable with mostly everything I own, no decorations, please, no odd colours; just a good pair of shoes to take me to places in summer, please. Something I can wear with a skirt, run and walk a lot in, something nice and simple. Is that too much to ask? Of course not.

Meet shoe pair #7 (gosh): brown leather, flat, beautiful sandals. Slippery, yes. A bit hard, oh well. So nice, though… Finally. Quite a bit hard, though, ouch. I wear them with the oldest item in my suitcase, a white sleeveless dress, perfect outfit for staying at the outdoors screening of Aardman’s Pirates, during a rain storm, under a little umbrella, wrapped in a cotton scarf, watching an unsubtitled film in French, a wonderful language I’ve pretended I can speak and understand for almost two weeks now.

There’s nothing better than a lot of rain to tame hard and coarse leather sandals, though I have missed the black winter Camper that night, spending the second half of the screening sitting on my program booklet, barefooted because cold, wet leather can be very chilly, and I don’t want to get sick. Wondersandals are at my feet right now, on the train to Valencia, we are now friends.

They have passed the initiation process, a water flood similar to the one that took away the best pair of sandals I ever met in my life: white, supple leather thongs with a soft heel belt I had bought in a Japanese shop in Bali. I had added some black silk band to secure them around my ankles. We were divine together and I would walk for hours, everywhere, all the time in them. They died during a violent rainstorm in Melbourne, after my friend Bahar’s birthday, got too much water and pretty much disintegrated under my eyes.

One of my favourite shorts sense at Annecy’s festival last week was “Second hand“, a british short. A very fast paced, stressed out young professional would rescue his elderly, hoarding neighbours and be saved from his neurosis by them: they would take away his noisy, hard and squared black shoes and knit a soft, red pair of thick socks that would give him peace of mind and sweet dreams. My favourite shoes are all like that, but they also take me to places. They are means of transportation, not only jewellery, for me. And I love it so much that I can go anywhere, on my feet.