The Sock– reworked in January 2023
I hung over the edge bent in the middle with my guts smashed and my feet dangling, as I fished a sock out of the bottom of the washer. I stretched, aggravated that my shortness was not compensated for when doing this eternal chore. Six kids can make laundry a difficult duty. Bruising my ribs in the process was just demeaning.
Feet on the ground, squinting in the light- I held an unfamiliar sock. This wasn’t a kid’s sock. It wasn’t mine. I knew immediately who would wear this sock. Calf length, black with red roses. I pictured the type of woman who wore this sock.
Just this past fall, I had gone to DC to reconnect with friends and immediately I realized that I did not wear the city girl uniform. I didn’t have a smart blazer, slim bootcut jeans and high heel black boots that announced when you walk in the restaurant. I had packed my best clothes for my girls weekend. I wore cuffed jeans and black patent clogs with a jaunty sweater. Nothing about my fashion was smart or slim. This sock was made to hide under black boots. I didn’t own black boots.
As I held this sock, I knew it. Something was really wrong. Walt must be having an affair. I will be alone. I am alone. I can’t. Finding a woman’s sock in my laundry. Is this a scene in a movie? Oh God, please let the baby nap longer. SSHHHHHHH. Let me think. Review what is happening. You can figure this out. Ok, so I grabbed Walt’s hotel laundry bag out of the laundry pile. The cheap white plastic bag from a Hyatt somewhere in North America was ripping. I held it together and pitched the contents into the washer… Washer complete… Baby asleep… I pulled his clothes out of the washer and hung his shirts to iron on Sunday. I pulled out his white undershirts that made him look so handsome. He would unbutton his dress shirt and his undershirt would be solid white and tighter on his chest and broad shoulders. He never wore gross undershirts with stains or holes, like I would. He stayed clean and handsome even after a business trip and flights. I couldn’t stay clean past the baby’s breakfast. I threw boxers into the dryer and socks. My mom had always told me to separate everything but with the mountain of dirty clothes I was facing, I was in survival mode. Everything got washed on semi cold. Good enough. I could see a dang sock in the bottom of the silver tub. I reached. Nope. On my tippy toes, I wriggled my tummy to the edge of the washer and propped myself up using the same muscles that picked up babies. Balancing on my gut, with my feet off the ground, I could reach the last little item in this dark well. A black sock with red roses.
This is the end. It has been a good twelve years- fourteen if you count before the wedding. This sock belongs to a woman in New York with legs and hips that go in slim jeans. I live in Decatur, Georgia with our six kids. Marriages end. I just do not understand how he found the time. He works so hard- long hours and travel. He come home and cleans. He rides a bike to work. He watches the kids while I take other kids to appointments for Addy’s newly diagnosed anorexia and the baby’s speech therapy or physical therapy. We go to like four soccer games a weekend for BeBe, Tuck and George while we entertain Dolly and the baby with rainbow staining snow cones. There is no time for women in high heel boots. He can’t be having an affair. There is not time. BREATHE. Damnitt. BREATHE. Please don’t let the baby wake up yet. He runs miles at night with our oldest for cross country training. Acts as a goalie for BeBe and Tuck and George while they shoot endlessly with their left foot. He takes the kids hiking and swimming. We are his life. Our whole life is us.
Maybe the sock was in the washer, left over from another wash cycle. This sock could belong to anyone. A teenager could fit in this sock just as well as a New York City mistress. One of Addy or BeBe’s friends must have left a sock at our house. I can ask when they get home from school who left this sock here. What if the kids suspect that the sock is their dad’s lover’s sock? I can’t ask the kids. Ask them casually when you are folding clothes? Whose stack does this sock go in? No big deal.
I texted my cousins on my new flip phone. I use the numbers to spell out each word. Whenyoucameforxmasdidyouleavesockatmy houseblackwithredroses I have not discovered a space button on my flip phone- there are only numbers. The makers of cell phones really should have added a space bar. Niki and Mesissa will figure out my message they are accustomed to texting because they are younger than me. It could definitely be Niki’s sock? I don’t know- would they buy socks with red roses on them?
I slide into our big bed. Silently, I glide my body next to the waking baby. Maybe if I cuddle her she will sleep a little longer. I stare at her chocolate face hoping to disappear into her baby smell. Ignore the fear. Ignore the dissolving of a marriage happening now before you are even two years old. Was it this last trip he made to New York? He loves the city. Did he go for a run with her? Did he take her to get a lobster roll in that tiny spot in Greenwich Village? Her sock came off in his hotel room? I have never sat in a hotel room with a man other than him. I never take off my socks in hotel rooms in New York with a stranger. He doesn’t have time with work and six kids – one with anorexia and our baby with a disability. Impossible? Slow down. BREATHE. The baby will feel your panic and wake up. Slow your breathing to match hers. It isn’t possible. He loves me. He said he loves me. He promised. We are married. An antique platinum ring, damnit. When he got home late last night, I waited. I waited for him to get home from the airport. I waited to watch him unbutton his dress shirt and slide his belt out of the belt loops in one quick smooth motion. I waited for him. I stayed awake so he could slide into this very bed and get under the huge heavy duvet with me. Last night, I opened my heart enough to ignore my tiredness, my insecurities, my exhaustion and overwhelm. I waited for him to get home from the late flight. I missed him. I was happy to see him.
Falling asleep last night, at the very last moment between sex and sleep,. Did he whisper a name? Was it Courtney? That is impossible. He was sighing. Sucking in his breath. Rolling off to the side of me. Leg across my hips. His warm breath on my neck. Warm and skin stuck together. Courtney? Maybe that wasn’t it. What did he say?
Mesissa and Niki text back. No. Why?
I have to pick up the kids. School is getting out soon. I gotta beat the afternoon train over the track or I will never get there in time to watch George and Dolly bust out the front door with the other munchkins at three o’clock.. I slide Mim onto my shoulder. Her drool cools my neck. Her sweaty midnight curls graze my jaw bone.
Original post titles The Sock
Still editing. Going to publish a book one day. One word at a time.