School: 8:00-3:00, dinner at 7:00, dance class 4:00-8:00 on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. Life for the upwardly mobile American consists of a regular schedule where everything must be planned. The large calendar on our refrigerator speaks to the human need to be organized, to be in total control. In large letters, words such as “swimming,” “dinner at Grandma’s” or “violin” declare our featured events, none a surprise. Although in the chaos of college applications, yearbook and two large dogs, life may seem unscripted, it is, in fact, scheduled to a T. Unfortunately, once you get into a routine, you are stuck. Day after day, the same old. Even the carryout boy from China Gourmet knows your name, choice dish and tipping percentage.
Amid the pandemonium, I’ve noticed a pattern: the aggravating sock thief strikes. With only three minutes to go before leaving the house, fifteen socks sit in my drawer, only four of which match. Did a person with a foot fetish steal my socks? Or perhaps my brother, with gargantuan feet, decided to wear one of my pink-and-grey argyle socks. No! The true culprit lives in the dark corner of my laundry room: the dryer. I believe the dryer eats socks, not for sustenance, but to create the unexpected. To switch up the daily norm, or at least give us a break from our filled routines.
I’m late for dance class again; apparently, the dryer has chosen to dreadfully murder four socks. My mother screeches down the basement stairs, “Let’s go! Stop dawdling!” Unfortunately, I cannot, for the life of me, find a matching pair. Wearing two different socks was last year’s fashion at the Culkin School of Traditional Dance, not to be repeated. Digging through a pile of clean clothes, my mind wanders.
Oddly, through the menial task of searching amidst a large pile of laundry, I begin to think about topics of true importance: Who am I? What do I value? What am I passionate about? These days, I can’t ever find enough time to stop, breathe, and reflect. Instead of pondering morality and beliefs, my mind is plagued with thoughts of how to write the best college essay, how to differentiate a function and who is going to die this year on Desperate Housewives. And yet, in this brief and magically unexpected break, I find time to really think. No nagging thoughts, just unadulterated contemplation.
“Let’s go,” she yells with a terrifying force. Clad in one bazooka-gum-pink sock and one green-and-white stripped sock, I rush out the door with mind full and heart satisfied.
Many people experience the typical angst when trying to find a pair of matching socks. I am newly converted: the time I spend searching for socks is blissful. A few years ago, I dreaded the laundry room, in particular the large, boxy appliance that resided in the corner. Now I can’t help but laugh at my naiveté: every unscheduled moment is precious. Walking into the laundry room, I look at the beautiful silver machine. With an appreciative pat, I’m off again, trying to find the next pair of socks.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.