I put on one of your socks today, faced with the unwanted realization that some part of you always creeps back into my life, even when, at this point, I just try to expunge all memories. It was so unexpected, the way it materialized. The way I live now, like a pig in shit, as you would call me, one never knows what might be stumbled upon. Amid the piles of clothes somehow though, there it was. The unaccompanied sock from a duo you had passed down to me so long ago now. I don’t know where the other one is. Not even sure if you meant to give me this particular pair, or if you accidentally mixed it up with my things when we were divvying up items to go our separate ways. As Dylan forewarned, “Most Likely You Go Your Way (And I’ll Go Mine).”
Fingering the soft cotton between my index finger and thumb in a manner that you never found the time to touch me in, I can see the image of you in my mind putting your socks on in the morning, when you would rise without hesitation. A skill I still don’t have and, in fact, waking up has only become more of an uphill battle for me; often, it’s an “early” day, if I leave by eleven.
Finding a mismatched sock to go with it from my top drawer, a white one with an image of a bleeding heart that is cut so it falls just below the ankle, I also remember there were occasions when you would sleep with your socks on, a testament to how rattled your bones could get by the weather. Though not much else. I slowly slide your former sock on. It’s a grey-black hue. Sort of like my aura ever since you left. You had a strange obsession with socks, yet never splurged on the quality kind, instead getting all excited when you happened upon a box of “unused” discarded ones on the street during a Sunday when we had decided to bike to Astoria for something Greek or Egyptian or equally as specific to the bizarre gastronomic anomaly that is that neighborhood. If I did ever catch you in a nice pair, it was because your mother had bought them for you. She even started buying them for me at some point along the way, when she had to admit that I was more than a passing fancy.
Except, in the end, I guess I was. Putting my black lace-up shoe on over the sock, it’s like I’m once again covering or suppressing these thoughts of you. A sensible person, the sort smart enough to “detach her narrative” from yours, would just throw it away, write it off as yet another sock that lost its match in the crazy, mixed up world called the washer/dryer. Or just the crazy, mixed up world. But I’m masochistically sentimental, and in some deplorable and pitiable way, it makes me feel closer to you, like we’ll always be connected even if you’ve long since moved on to other socks. When we moved out of our apartment together, there were a number of cold-weather accessories you gave to me, as though a symbol of wanting to keep me warm with something knowing that you yourself couldn’t and would never be able to. In addition to socks, there was long underwear and a corresponding thermal top. I’ve lost track of both, but here still, remains the lone sock, like some vexingly cliche metaphor.
I sigh and finish dressing my feet with the bleeding heart sock and my other shoe. It doesn’t matter, it’s just a foot-shaped cloth. It doesn’t mean anything. This is what my internal monologue assures me so that I will leave the house and not crawl back into bed to engage in a depressive coma.
Yet, walking through the streets we once shared together, me wearing just one of your socks, I wonder again where its match could have gone to. Now, this inanimate thing and I, we’re just two unpaired objects, together making our own discarded alliance. And maybe it’s not so bad. We have to take cohorts where we can get them.