Readily available cures

In my Mexican hotel room Lost in Translation plays, a mirror for those adrift. I am again feverish in a country not my own and so relish the sounds of Japan, the clean linen, the Gatorade and air conditioning. Perhaps it was the food, or perhaps pure exhaustion from a weekend spent running in the sun at Stanford and several extremely long days on my feet.

On screen Bill Murray smiles awkwardly. I shiver. In this box of manufactured air I am secure, and I heal. Tomorrow I will rise early and step again into the heat that waits outside my door, in the very hallway. Tonight, like those lost souls in Tokyo on TV, I ignore Juarez. Instead I try to find some space to breathe, and to think of how fix the problems I am here to see. How to do the right thing, once I have discovered it.

I also remember.

In the Summit, an expensive Shanghai apartment complex behind The Center, a glass tower on Huashan Lu then but a few years old, I remember a man of thirty. He lay for a day and a half in bed. He shivered and shook with some unknown disease contracted in the manufacturing sprawl outside Shaoxing. He cured it the way he was accustomed to in China, with Advil, Gatorade, and thick covers. The Saturday I remember was his one day off out of three weeks in country, and he saw nothing outside of his friend’s apartment, the guest bedroom.

Out the window in Juarez a pool glows in the evening, abandoned for the moment by hotel guests. A gym next to it features men working off business lunches by pounding their knees on an endless rubber path. I have energy for neither sit-ups nor discontent.

I am in a country without holding any of its currency. The idea of this is bemusing and inconvenient as the vending machines on the floor below might otherwise offer sustenance. I toss and turn, occupied by the soreness of sickness. Somehow all of these illnesses, all of these aching hours alone in strange countries, blur together in feverish dreams.

On an airplane across the Pacific, I remember a man age twenty eight.  He had a bulkhead seat, but did not appreciate the space. Neither blanket nor hoodie could stop the chills and the aches of the illness he had contracted in Houston and incubated on the flight to LA. On reaching home in Shanghai he would remain housebound for a week. He would learn of his roommate’s soup-making skills and see little save the sallow face in his own mirror.

At thirty two, I leave Juarez for Phoenix with the illness still inside me. Shivering in the Phoenix airport as the air conditioning floods down, almost unable to stand, I take comfort in having still never been as ill as on that flight to Shanghai.

On the flight home to San Francisco, finally free, finished with the week in the Juarez Holiday Inn Express, I count up those other lost days, ill in countries not my own. So often I have been powerless save for the cures I knew: Advil brought with me, Gatorade purchased for scant dollars, and covers of a bed briefly borrowed.

I am glad once again to be going home to a house that is not empty. Going home to someone who will aid me in ways, alone and with so little language, I have never managed to improve.

Adidas Marun

Between August 2005 and August 2008 I lived a strange life, working and living in Shanghai and spending several weeks a quarter in Los Angeles. On these brief sojourns across the Pacific I would see friends, do business, and shop. 

On one of these trips, which I know now to have been August 2007, I bought a pair of Adidas sneakers. 

Adidas Marun

I’ve worn Sambas since about age 4, and was looking for a new pair, ducking in to the Adidas Store on the 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica. I bought these instead because they were the brightest thing on the shelf.

The above photo was taken today, 9/10/2011. They’ve held up remarkably well, despite the year of wearing them almost every day on the streets of Shanghai and factories of the greater eastern Chinese seaboard.

Astute readers have probably noticed the strange thing about these shoes. Unlike almost every pair of Adidas shoes in the world, they do not have a model name on the side, diagonally in line with the third stripe. 

They are, in fact, nameless. The name at the top of this post, Marun, comes from four hours of google searching for “adidas sneaker” and various combinations of colors, and the numbers on the tongue tag, which are:

  • Fty No. PYV 702001  
  • Art No. 096903 08/07 
  • 9YSSDSBX00058 
  • Made in Vietnam

The Marun is no longer in production, which is a shame. Here’s the Google Image search results for “Adidas Marun”. Take a second and look them over. 

Here’s the only for-sale versions I can find, at what might also be my favorite new shoe site ever. 

I post this because, after four hours of Google/shopping site scanning, during which I looked through thousands of images for a shoe that had no name, I wanted to unify the information. I also want to tell the world about my favorite pair of Adidas, which are dying, and of which I’d love another. 

This pair of shoes is also a good reminder that even in the age of mass-produced shoes, in the age of global business empires, things can and do disappear forever. The internet is a memory bank for our species, but only to the extent that we care to document.

Also, I’m a US 9.5. 

Any help?