Some small part of me was actually feeling maybe a little sad not to be at SXSW this year; it’s taken me since 2010, the last time I went when I worked at Paste, to feel this way. Then I found this photo of my feet on the third day of the music part of the festival in 2008 and now I feel a little better. This was a few days after the afternoon when I walked some ungodly number of blocks across downtown in unbroken-in shoes to find some restaurant supply company where I’d been sent to rent or buy some kind of obscurely-sized white tablecloth for some sponsor for our day party. I guess I had some idea of why this particular kind of tablecloth was needed at the time, but I can hardly remember now. Or maybe I didn’t know at all. That’s also possible. Anyway, this was pre-iPhone for me, but I very much had the same half-very-good, half-terrible sense of direction that I do now, and also the same anxiety about calling and riding in cabs. So I just walked and walked and walked, the walking very soon turning into excruciatingly painful limping, and then I reached my destination, acquired the tablecloth, walked some distance to a shuttle I’d figured out the existence of, took the shuttle as far as I could, then walked the remaining however many blocks down closed-off Sixth Street back to the venue. I was within shouting distance of the bar when, in a moment of blistered delirium, I stopped and took off my shoes. They were yellow Calvin Klein boat shoes that I’d bought at Loehmann’s earlier that winter in the midst of some kind of depressive slump for which yellow boat shoes seemed a reasonable fix. They fixed nothing! And now they had small blood stains all inside them. After that I walked for a while without any shoes on at all, carrying my shoes, barefoot on the sidewalk. I guess it was really early in the festival, maybe even the day before the first day, because there were no crowds, and maybe this is why I started walking with my shoes off, not that it would have been the weirdest thing happening at any given moment if there had been crowds. I did pass one guy, though, going the opposite way down the sidewalk. He shot me, or rather my bare feet, this totally withering eyeroll and said, “I hope you already have hepatitis.” I let him get a ways down the sidewalk before I stopped and put my shoes back on, because he was an asshole, but sometimes assholes are right.