Searching for The Perfect Sock

There is something comforting about folding socks, about matching them and holding them so that the heels face each other, then lining up the tops before rolling the pair into themselves as far as the feet, which hang free. There is something calming about knowing each sock has a mate. Sometimes they lose each other through being sorted incorrectly into the wrong drawer. On rare occasions they disappear into the Great Sock Vortex, never to be seen again. Mostly they find their way home after being stuck underneath a dresser or hiding at the foot of the bed.

Socks are incredibly diverse. Some are short with heels cut low in the back, some are long, reaching above your knees. Some are thin and stretchy while others are thick and warm. Socks can be bright, fanciful or utilitarian. Some imply a story like my New Mexico socks with their orange, purple and green horses running free. I wear them when I want to feel like I’ve escaped from my paddock to run across a pinon-covered mesa in summer.

I learned about rolling socks from a dear college friend who was my roommate for a time after graduation, and was also the object of my affection for many years. My romantic love was not returned, as he was gay. Like our unrolled socks, we got lost for a while because I needed to go away. We eventually reconnected, which is when he taught me about loving and staying. For a long time, growing that wisdom in myself was enough. Now, well past the midpoint of my life, I am finding I want more. I want to align with another sock that is colorful, sturdy yet attractive, great to wear while hiking in a red rock canyon or curling up to listen to music on the couch. I want us roll ourselves into each other while leaving part of ourselves hanging free. Perhaps we even get lost on occasion, but we always know the other is waiting, knowing we will find ourselves together again.

So now my challenge is to hunt for that other sock, and I’m having a hard time getting myself into search mode. It’s been a long time since I’ve looked. It’s been a long time since I’ve opened myself up to vulnerability. I imagine some of you found your mate long ago and know what it means to be rolled into one another. If you haven’t had a mate for years, how do you prepare yourself to look? If you’re not interested in a mate, what makes your singleness so rich? I do believe there is huge wisdom in all states of pairing and singularity, and would love to hear yours.

Traffic Lessons

TRAFFIC LESSONS

I had just left Farmer Joe’s feeling good about purchasing all I needed for my dinner party that night in a relatively short amount of time, and under budget. I had an hour’s grace period before I had to start cooking. Driving out of the parking lot to the left turn that led me to the freeway, I ended up behind a stopped car in my lane. The driver was wildly gesticulating with his left hand in a way that indicated to me that he wanted me to go around him. At the same time a city bus that was on the street that intersected ours was about to turn left in front of us. It was a tight turn. While I should have paid more attention to what the bus was doing, I focused on the insistence of the man and pulled in front of him, thinking I would be poised at the corner to turn left after the bus had made its turn.

I was wrong.

As I pulled next to the man I heard, “What are you doing, you stupid asshole?!!” The bus, now halfway through its left turn, came dangerously close to my car. I realized it was not me he was waving on – it was the bus.

I did the only thing I could. I drove up onto the sidewalk, which (thankfully) was pedestrian free, to make room for the bus to turn. As it did I noticed the faces of a couple of young kids who were looking out the window in disbelief and delight in what was going on. After the bus turned, I had to turn in front of drivers who were waiting to follow the path of the bus, but were impeded by my front bumper sticking out into their lane. Even they smiled at me with kindly indulgence.

What I most remarked on afterward was that I did not call myself a stupid asshole, but instead acknowledged my mistake and the fact that I did the best I could, fairly calmly, in a potentially disastrous situation. So here’s what I learned:

LESSON #1:
Slowing way down when frantic signals are being exhibited is a good idea. Not doing so can lead to misinterpretation.

LESSON #2
Misinterpretation and assumption can lead to disaster. It is no wonder that conflicts between people, between factions, between nations can seem impossible to resolve. Misinterpretation based on false assumption occurs in an instant of time and is often acted upon in less. If there is no time, opportunity or inclination to check out what has been said or done, or to apologize for misunderstanding someone else, the seed of conflict is planted. I will remain a stupid asshole, and a number of other epithets that I have blocked out or forgotten, in that one driver’s mind forever. And from his perspective, that is absolutely true.

And it is not the whole truth.

Where do you find the whole truth?

On The Porch

On The Porch: Perspectives in the Afternoon of Life

I’ve never met a porch I didn’t like. It’s what I notice first about a house: Is there a porch and what is its purpose? Is it a wrap-around veranda that provides places for secret conversations on the side of the house or a screened-in porch that brings you a pest-free summer? Across the country, from Manhattan to Mill Valley, sitting on porches alone or with family and friends has calmed me and invited reflection, connection and a vantage point for watching people and the sky. The back porch where I grew up was a place to play house with my friends when I was a kid, to sit and consider the pangs of emerging adulthood during college breaks and, on summer evenings after her stroke, to give Mom and me a respite from the demands of her dementia.

There’s also something about sitting on porches in the later afternoon, when the day is winding down and the quality of light starts to change. As the sun edges towards the horizon the clear white light of day slowly deepens, then sharpens into bold gold Rembrandt hues. Everything takes on a new cast. The underbellies of trees are revealed as light sprays them from below. Some people stop and take note, most walk on. Some birds cease to sing while others chirp anew. My breath slows, my eyes fill with beauty.

I am 60, closing in on 61. Spiritually and energetically I am somewhere between a two-year old and a crone. By the sundial, I’m in the afternoon of my life. I don’t know what that afternoon will be, whether long and lazy or fast and full, or something else entirely. Whatever it is, it will certainly retain the magic of extraordinary light, of a knowing that night is not far away, that darkness will reveal things unseen by day and, at some point, I will sleep.

However, there are miles to go before I do, and those miles bring new learning in this particular light. What better place to consider and contemplate than a chair or a swing or a couch or a rocker on the porch. Come join me in a cup of tea or a glass of lemonade, or sometimes a margarita or a flute of French champagne. Be my companion as we consider the aging of our parents and ourselves, as we gaze upon the past and present of our lives and the world with a seasoned eye, and as we look to the future with more experience of uncertainty under our belts.

Take off your shoes and sit a spell.

© 2010 Kim Fowler PCC, CPCC, ORSCC   •   4200 Park Blvd. #155 Oakland CA 94602   •   (510) 534-5160 p   •   (510) 962-9027 f  •  Contact Me