I love fall. I love the autumn colors and the crispness in the air. I love the anticipation of a warm sweater and the fulfillment of a cup of hot coffee on a cool morning. I love the warmth of the days and the clear night walks where stars that seem to have hung around all summer suddenly sharpen their edges and give off a clear and pristine light. The rustle of leaves and the sharp winds of fall bring a message of urgency...winter is coming and soon the world will turn indoors for comfort and only the most hearty will venture outside on a regular basis.The downside of autumn for me is fitting back into suitable shoes. They always feel too tight and restrictive the first few times you slip back into them in September. I hold off as long as I can but here in the prairies, toes pay the price for a stubborn streak that refuses to admit that the cold has arrived. I love the freedom of slipping on flip flops or backless shoes and being able to come and go as I like. Fall, for all it's crispness and freshness, brings tedious things too...like tying shoes and wearing socks and having to pause for more than a few seconds to transition from indoors to outdoors and back again.My life feels like that right now. Slipping back into my life post-Zambia feels like I'm wearing shoes after a summer of being barefoot and free. I kept telling myself that the shoes that are my life would begin to feel comfortable again, as they have every fall before, but for some reason, this season, they are not breaking back in the way I like. My life, if we could wear the shoe analogy just a little longer, is still in style and looks comfortable. These shoes are sensible shoes. In fact, you could say many people would love to be in these shoes. I get compliments on my shoes and people admire certain things about my shoes and for the most part, most days they are fairly comfortable shoes. And yet, it's like there is a small pebble or sand rolling around my shoes that makes them rub me the wrong way, leaving a blister that can not be ignored. I'm certain the sand was there before Zambia and yet I was able to ignore it for the sake of the other comforts and style and admiration that the shoes afforded me. But now, for all the taking off of the shoes and shaking them out, I can't seem to rid myself of the source of this pain. It's not debilitating or crippling, it's more like a nagging reminder that something doesn't fit right.I don't know what all the options are. I haven't even been thinking about shoe shopping lately but trying to squeeze my foot back into these shoes only makes me feel like an ugly stepsister trying to force my way to a ball. And some days, I do want to be invited to the ball, I want to be where things are shiny and pretty and the music is lovely and the food and wine are overflowing. On the other hand, going back to barefoot means that my feet will be dirty, there are thorns and I have to give up even being allowed the privileges of being served, the same way even a lowly diner reserves the right to refuse service if you aren't wearing shoes.I'm just not sure I can walk another mile in ill fitting shoes.