• Lucia Joyce

Everywhere I Found Your Socks Today

What I love about finding your socks is... they're never in the same place twice. It's like you've beaten the system, endlessly finding a new corner to stash those day-worn clumps and catch me off guard, every day. I get swept up in the cheekiness of it. I can picture your mental smirk even while you sleep in the next room. Well played.

Today, I found 5 black socks:

--A clean, soft one in the office; slipped from your crammed pile of warm laundry on the walk to the bedroom, and left for dead.

--Another two, matching, arranged in a detailed natural art exhibit under the porch table that holds our weed. I stared at them, a pair of black cotton rose buds covered in cobwebs, dust, and dried leaves. "What? Gross. No," I said, batting off the chunkier bits and tossing the socks into your side of the wooden laundry crate. Fashioned from the IKEA bed frame slats you found near the dumpster of our first LA apartment, the giant laundry hamper used to annoy me--it felt too big for our smaller spaces. Now I love its sturdiness. I love its blonde wood grain and brunette knots. It reminds me of a treehouse or homemade playground equipment--makes me think of the stuff you'll make for our kid some day. I love that at least three loads of dirty laundry can be packed conveniently into each side, and since neither of us wears a uniform any more, we can let the clothes stack up as the weeks pass by, and get creative with our at-home-anyway outfits. I love feeling the palpable progress of laundry day. I reminisce about the days that went with each outfit as I separate them into piles and stuff those piles in the washer and dryer in succession. I put the clean piles away throughout the day, hanging up shirts like fresh starts. Though most of our clothes are 'fast fashion' and free swag from gigs, our closets have come a long way, even before you factor in all the stuff you left in Germany. Who knows when we'll get back your black Timberlands and thicker jackets... probably after at least one COVID-19 vaccine gets patented.

--Two others, slightly cleaner but definitely worn for at least half a day. These ones were more like little black baseballs, angled pretty far away from each other and wedged between the living room rug and the metal legs of the bowl chair. I remembered you in that chair last night or the night before, straight chillin' in your staples: black V-neck and Adidas sweats. "Why do you even wear socks at all?" I wondered out loud. I tried to connect your relationship with socks, philosophically, to the fact that there's always sand and sawdust in the bed. All of it just makes me smile.

In the many years we've lived together, I've used small cleaning 'nags' for a number of purposes:

--as opportunities to playfully express my routine preferences, and ask that we honor them, however imperfectly.

--to secretly alert you because I'm stressed and overwhelmed and need a hug

--for high, rambling monologues that wax poetic on the wordless 'zen' of cleaning the space each day with discipline and calm.

--for huffy exhales indicating my desire for you to drop everything and join me in a chore that inspired me momentarily and now seems too cumbersome to finish. The huffs say: "I am owed this help in this moment because I'm the only one here who ever vacuums."

--to happily reward you for all your hard work and daily thoughtfulness. I might think about all the sweet, buttery protein shakes you've handed me, and all the times you've cleaned up without being asked, look you in the eye and say: "I'm taking this with zero resentment," before carting your crusty oatmeal bowl from your work desk to the kitchen sink for its customary soak. I was going to the kitchen any way.

--An excuse to break down, fully, head in my hands, crumbling into fetal position and shaking with sobs. The cause of this starts out unknown to me. It surprises me almost as much as it surprises you. We both know it's not about 'cleaning', though depending on my energy level, I might try to tie it in with the dishes or the messy fridge. It's also not about any of the other things that bubble up in my desperate rant: schedule things, family things, political things, or money things, though I will summon all my fanciest phrases from the depths of my ego to try to convince you these and your actions regarding them are to blame for my emotional tidal wave....

...but it's so much simpler than that.

I am, simply, afraid, and I need to feel safe right now.

I have tapped into a trauma that I have no words for yet. Please hold me and absorb my tears with your shirt so I can take a moment to process something I cannot explain. I love you, and I'm sorry this is weird and inconvenient. Just please go with it and I promise to be normal again after. Also, thank you. Also, the deep satisfaction of being held up by your love might make me cry even harder at first. You'll just have to trust that it's working.

You get it, every time. You listen and hold, listen and hold. You push through your own hurt feelings to validate mine. You find new places to hide your abandoned socks. You find new ways to make me smile and sing. You make me want to endlessly be a better partner.

Thank you, and I love you endlessly.

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