Our daughter Kristen’s bag weighed one sock lighter when she returned to South Carolina.
The missing grey sock was athletic in nature, the kind that hits just below the ankle. It sported a thin, pink ring around its top.
She looked for it. I looked for it. After a minute or two, we gave up.
I knew better than to spend an inordinate amount of time searching for a sock. I’d been there, done that—chasing lone socks to no avail.
Then in a month or a year or five, they turn up. Socks like to plaster themselves to beach towels or cuddle up in the curves of fitted sheets.
They find their way into folds of blankets and interior linings of dresses. They make static electric connections with bath towels.
And, sometimes, they just disappear. They vanish. They evaporate.
But I’ve never thought about it from the sock’s point of view. Maybe socks, like many humans, argue with or grow tired of their mates.
They hop into the washing machine and see a satin sheet or a cozy blanket or a colorful beach towel and think, “Wow! I have all kinds of choices.”
By the time they get to the dryer, they’ve flirted with a pants leg and mamboed with a tea towel. Before the drying cycle is done, they adhere themselves—incognito—to a new mate.
Or maybe, as they make their rounds in the washer, they decide to start over altogether.
“I’ve lived in the same drawer for two years,” they say. “My mate is always telling me what to do and I fear my owner is considering replacing us with a new brand.”
If they cycle the negatives enough times, they get the push they need to dive into the drain hose. They flush themselves out with the dirty water and into a new life.
What they can’t possibly know is whether the path they’ve chosen will lead to city waters or eternal doom in the bowels of a septic tank.
Last week, I threw a load of clothes into the dryer and spied a grey wisp peeking out from beneath the washing machine. Closer inspection revealed Kristen’s lost sock.
It looked sad and lonely all by itself on the floor. I don’t believe its intention was to find a new mate or seek a different life. I don’t believe it leaped from either machine on purpose.
I said to myself, “Self, this sock wants to go home to its mate, its owner, and its drawer.”
I gave the sock another bath. Then, I placed it on my desk and picked up my pen. Together, we composed a letter to Kristen.
I would have come home sooner, but I’ve been trying to work through my anger and hurt. I was so sad when you abandoned me in West Virginia. You dropped me under the washer and left me there all alone. I know you didn’t mean it, but it was lonely hanging out in the laundry closet floor without my mate.
Sometimes I think you love Stella (the Cockapoo) more than you love me. But that’s ok. I’ve come to accept that my place in your life is on your feet and I’m ready to come home. Please don’t tear yourself up with guilt over this. I just had to vent. Now I feel better and smell better, too! Can’t wait to get back on your feet!
Love, Your Sock”
I dropped the sock with its letter into an envelope and mailed it to a happy ending.