Socks by Dina Al-Awadhi

We first started out so similar,

You and I.

With our crisp white socks,

those stitched in doilies adorned by a simple lace. 

Obviously a mother’s choice at hand

to match out such ugly, block shopped uniforms.

 

And I don’t think I recall how I first met you.

All I do remember,

as vividly as though it were only yesterday,

was the day we became friends.

 

It was recess.

And the children were rampant

in that wild jungle emporium of slides and swings,

monkey bars galore.

A wild, romping adventure

that playground was.

The shouts, the screams,

the obligatory crying child,

the marbles bumping along the grey pavement,

those teachers in the corner that always used to gossip,

the hot and bleary sun.

 

My favorite pastime was primarily catch,

I loved to run and hide

And join in the jumping and screaming.

be the first to reach the safe haven,

and just feel unstoppable, unbeatable,

Powerful.

 

And it was all a mistake really,

I wasn’t a bully.

In a mere stumble of a miscalculated step,

I elbowed you into a muddy slush,

and it got all over your pretty white socks and white shoes.

And to tell the truth,

I think you might have cried for a full ten minutes straight.

And I,

I had no earthly idea what to do!

 

You just kept on it,

crying and crying crying.

You didn’t stop

even when I said I was sorry.

And then I was worried that a teacher would come over

and would put me in timeout

and write a letter to my mother

who would also put me in a timeout

and then be disappointed.

And no cartoons,

and no Legos,

and no bed time stories,

and no Electric Blue Raspberry Fruit Roll-up,

and and and…!

 

And I guess I did the only thing I could think of.

I promptly took off my smudged and dirty velcro sneakers,

rolled off my crisp white socks,

and handed them over to you.

 

You stared at me incredulously for the longest moment.

And for a second I thought you were going to start crying again.

But then, with an abrupt euphoric giggle,

you accepted the sacrificial offering,

pulled me into a too-tight hug,

and wouldn’t let go of my hand for the rest of the day.

 

That day, after recess was over,

I don’t know why, I shared half my peanut butter and jelly sandwich with you

and you dutifully handed me half of your Graham crackers.

We playfully kicked each other under the table, giggling wildly.

You with my clean pair of white socks on your bright white shoes

And me, with only a pair of velcro sneakers on.

 

And it’s strange,

because I never wondered how

we suddenly had become best friends.

I just accepted it.

A smile for a smile,

a laugh for a laugh,

and a sock for a sock I guess.

And then again,

I never had a best friend

 

And God, I thought I was lucky,

We spent all of Elementary in the same classes glued together

You would come over to my house to watch movies

And I would go over to your house

And play games with you and your older sister.

 

You started to go shopping with your mom

and choose out your own socks.

You’d come to school displaying them so finely

With you sparkly clean white tennis shoes,

Baby pinks, sky blues,

pale lavenders and pastel greens.

 

And as is the way of child perversity I suppose,

I consequently went nagging on my mama

to buy me new socks.

And hear you all this,

I abhorred shopping.

I loathed shopping,

right down to my very toes.

 

But choosing my own socks wasn’t too bad I found.

In fact, it was surprisingly fun.

The striped rainbows, the dotted purples,

midnight blue with golden stars,

and deep mango orange,

checkered black and red,

glow-in-the-dark, and my favorite,

mismatched pairs!

 

And you and my mother egged me on

and I had never smiled so brightly.

 

And then we entered middle school.

And we were all stunned,

utterly paralyzed with fear.

The piles and piles of homework stacked higher and higher

And this whole new world of responsibilities

and “maintaining your GPA,”

and daily quizzes,

and essays and drafts and peer-editing,

and and and…!

 

And I found refuge in the library.

A place so beautiful and wholly different

I could spend hours and hours browsing through the books.

And you,

You.

You found more friends with whom to share this load of newness

 

And just as suddenly as we had become friends,

you were gone.

 

In the hallways,

I saw you,

with your hot pink socks and squeaky clean tennis shoes

but you didn’t seem to see me and my mismatched socks anymore.

And it’s also strange,

because I never wondered why it turned out that way,

I just accepted it.

 

And now I was left alone

to eat my peanut butter sandwich at the stairs

and seek comfort in my books.

 

High school was a quick haze,

a blur filled with great and intimidating, hulking seniors

that we then quickly grew into.

Now we had SAT’s to worry about

and more essays and tests and quizzes,

and colleges also want extracurricular activities,

and a high GPA,

and stress and pressure,

and stress and pressure,

and and and…!

 

And who am I kidding,

that place was hell.

 

I think you sat behind me in chemistry one year.

I could always hear you whispering,

snorting in laughter most of the time.

It wasn’t very comfortable.

And it was strange,

Because even though I could hear you mocking the teacher’s lisp

and gossiping about that this person and that,

I didn’t think back to the old days

when we used to share my peanut butter sandwich.

 

One day, in our last year,

I heard someone saying

Isn’t it so weird that you two used to be best friends?

Weird,

as though I had mutated into some freak show,

with the perpetual nose in a book

and purposefully mismatched socks.

Weird,

because I was strange and awkward in comparison to you

and your beautiful long, and flowing hair,

and your ever squeaky clean tennis shoes

and pretty pink ankle socks.

 

But you see, that made me think

how strange it is

that two little girls

who once upon a time had found the sacred gift of friendship

could now pass in the hallways without a simple hello.

For you had become you

and I me.

And nothing

could or would ever bridge that gap.

 

What a horrible thing time is.

 

 

Not too long ago,

I went back to that playground.

And I cried.

Because everything had become too small

and rusty and faded.

The swings, the slides

Even the monkey bars.

And I found that little spot where

you fell in the mud.

And I cried.

 

Because if a pair of crisp white socks and an innocent child heart

wasn’t enough to make a friendship last,

then what was?

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