Adonis Diaries

First time I walked bare feet. Clutching my sandals. And the last time.

Posted on: June 20, 2016

 

First time I walked bare feet. Clutching my sandals.  And the last time

Numb at the Magnitude of the Unknown (Part 3). October 25, 2008

That summer of 1975, I noticed many American students walking bare feet,

Carrying their sandals in hand and attending class bare feet.

One day, I felt the urge to imitate them:

I walked to class bare feet, carrying my sandals.

Miss Linda, the English teacher, was dumb struck; her cheeks flushed anger.

I could hear the wrath within her soul:

“American might be permitted to behave so, against my will.

But foreigners?! Certainly and absolutely not: rules are rules”.

She kicked me out of the classroom.

 

I did not enjoy walking bare feet: Summer in Oklahoma scalds any bare skin,

And carrying the stupid sandals was not that cool after all.

The university had an outdoor and an indoor swimming pool.

Many lovely girls lounged around the semi-Olympic size outdoor pool.

I paid for a two-week formal swimming lessons:

I had to swim professionally for the beautiful girls.

 

It was my first formal swimming lessons:

I almost got drowned twice before, in open sea, closest to the shore,

Carried away by tide…

My dense hairy chest and back were a curiosity to everyone.

A Japanese classmate went so far as to compare me to a monkey.

 

I love swimming and have been practicing it ever since.

In every city I relocated to, my first target was finding an affordable indoor pool.

 

After a month of English, which I didn’t need from my pre-test scores,

But I still had to attend because the tuition was prepaid,

I discovered that the university, which conditionally accepted me, was indeed in Stillwater,

Not in the town of Norman.

Stillwater was initially a farming university, in a hole of a town,

A hundred and fifty miles North-East of the State Capital Oklahoma City.

 

I visited that university in August, but I still don’t know how I got there.

The administration told me that I was late, or my application was declined;

I don’t remember the reasons for denying my application, but I felt good.

I was back to the University of Oklahoma at Norman

 

Dr. Hillel Kumin, chairman of the Industrial Engineering department,

Accepted my application for graduate studies without much fussing.

I had to take just two pre-requisite undergraduate courses.

This is how simple life should be:

It matched my naïve perception on systems, organizations and people’s characters.

 

There were a few instances where my model of a simple life matched the real model.

More often, I had to learn to struggle for survival.

Many years later, I was still learning to just scrap a living;

Not much else.

 

To fill the time before the Fall semester begins,

I volunteered with a linguistic society on campus for the summer.

I was to speak, translate and write Arabic for Americans enrolled in linguistics.

They were potential missionaries!

 

It was 1975, and the Americans were still free to be compassionate.

It was 1975, and an American in a position of power

Could wield a wide latitude for making compassionate decisions.

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adonis49

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