Orphan socks – a short story about doing laundry while blind

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A photo of blue stripped orphan socks placed over an old wooden fence railing.

Orphan socks – a short story about doing laundry while blind

“Sometimes I wonder, that one missing sock after doing laundry, is the smart one. After being unhappy for so long, it finally walks away from a frayed, worn-out relationship.” Anthony Liccione

In my house after enthusiastically adopting the role of laundress, I began noticing an accumulation of single, unmatched socks. I began referring to them as orphans. With the quantity mounting, I found it necessary to house them in a plastic aqua-colored tub. I took an inventory of sorts of the style, length, and color of each sock before putting them into the bin, where hopefully they would be reunited with their mate at some point.

Today as I look at the sock orphanage, I note seven distinct occupants: two corgi themed socks, one on a white background and one on black; a medley of four crew socks with different heel and body colors; and one black trouser sock with a white heel and toe. In my world of laundry, I, the laundry supervisor, must locate matches that may be hidden in fitted sheets or various nooks and crannies around the house. Six months is the maximum residency of these disparate socks as I attempt to locate an exact or similar mate. I am glad that these sock orphans do not share the same feelings as human orphans do when they are left behind, so I don’t feel guilty leaving them on their own or sending them on their way to the landfill.

My husband and older daughter prefer their socks to match, while my younger one is comfortable with orphan socks. She does not need hers to be a precise match. In elementary school, she sported two unmatched socks as her unique fashion statement. When my children were small, I created hand puppets with some of the single socks. It delights me to find that socks have assumed a life of their own and that I have contributed to their reincarnation when I do this.

Even as my vision declined, I still could feel for holes at the socks’ heels and toes.

I’ve always been open to refining my laundry techniques. Fifteen years ago, my friend Lin taught me how to cuff socks together to keep them paired. Laundry in all its stages provides me with a sense of purpose and accomplishment. Despite my vision loss, I draw upon cues such as a brightly colored heel, toe, or calf ribbing.

Article by
Kathy Stephanides

Kathy Stephanides resides in Oakland, California with her husband and she has two grown daughters, one in LA and one in Oakland.