I bought some new socks last week … nothing fancy, just a 3-pack of nondescript dress socks from the discount clothing store (I am neither well-to-do nor keenly aware of my lack of fashion sense, two aspects of my existence that complement each other remarkably well). Usually, I’ve got somewhere around 5 pair … enough to get me through a week of “work.” But as all things do, socks wear out, and there’s not a darn thing that can be done about it. I was down to about 3 wearable pairs, and it was time replenish the drawer.
Well, I got home yesterday afternoon after work, and began what has lately become something of a ritual: doffing my big-boy clothes, getting jammied up, and shuffling around the house in lonesome despair, lights dimmed, curtains drawn, beer in hand, wondering just what in the hell went so wrong that I would wind up so far down this road with nary a clue as to how I got here, nor even, at this late date, from whence I came.
Yesterday, though, as I peeled the socks from my feet (I prefer to do my shuffling bare-footed, thankyewverymuch … the transition from the warm wood of the dining room to the cool tile of the kitchen can be quite invigorating), I thought to myself “Sweet pickled Polly! This being Wednesday, I’ve exhausted my supply of new socks!” (My inner dialogue adheres, as does my writing on this blog, to the dictum stating “Never use one word when you can use one hundred.”)
I had actually gotten to the laundry room when I was struck by the realization of what I was doing. I was about to do a half-load of laundry, mid-week, just because the remaining clean, perfectly fine socks in the drawer just weren’t new enough. These were socks that had warmed my feet on cold morning rides … socks that knew I practiced scales with my little piggies during boring meetings … socks that had soaked up the blood of countless badly stubbed toes … socks that never complained when I wore one of them inside out. But they weren’t new. “My god,” I thought. “Am I really this shallow? Does my superficiality ironically run so deep that I can throw away our storied past with such disregard, simply because there's something new?”
As often happens during such moments of disheartening self-reflection, I slouched to the floor and sat for hours, unmoving (I don’t count trips to the fridge for more beer), and wondered how I could possibly go on. If I could discard something so trusted and trusting, loved and loving, throwing it away like … well, like an old sock, I guess … then what kind of person had I become?
I’m afraid to look in the mirror, for fear that I won’t recognize the monster looking back, or worse yet ... that I will.
4 weeks ago