The Postscript: Making room for the new… socks

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 16, 2019

By Carrie Classon


I cleaned out my sock drawer today.

I realize this probably doesn’t qualify as big news, but it was cathartic for me. It turns out I had accumulated a large selection of socks that fell into one of three categories: socks that were technically fine but hadn’t been worn in years, socks that had reached their expiration date, and socks I liked—bunched up in the front of the drawer where I could find them.

My sister gave me a nice pair of socks for Christmas and when I finally got around to putting them away, I saw the problem: I had a drawer full of things I did not use.

I did an inventory and was shocked to learn I had been providing sanctuary to thirteen pair of unemployed socks. I also became aware that I have too many scarves, dresses I never wear, jewelry that hasn’t been worn in ages, and books that I have never read—and never will. None of these things is making me happy, yet getting rid of them is hard.

The mindset responsible for keeping unneeded things is complicated. I keep most of it because I have some imaginary vision of a future when it will be useful. I imagine I am going to wear the dress to some swanky event I will never actually go to. I will find a sudden interest in the unbearably dull book. The necklace will be perfect with an outfit I do not own. A completely serviceable pair of gray socks in my drawer reproached me, eliciting all sorts of emotions in me that a pair of socks really has no right to.

“Why did you buy us, if you weren’t going to wear us?” I don’t even remember buying you. I have no idea when I thought I would wear you!

“Maybe, if you gave us a try, we’d become your favorite socks.” Theoretically, this might be true, but it’s not going to happen.

“Lots of people would be happy to wear us!” This was probably also true, but I’m not one of those people.

I remembered when a friend from Nigeria came to visit. While he was being driven around, he saw a homeless person, begging for money. He took a close look at the beggar and became outraged.

“That man has socks!” he hollered from the passenger seat. “How can a man with socks be begging?!”

To his mind, having achieved sock-wearing status was a sort of economic indicator that revealed this man to be a fraud, certainly not in need of financial assistance. My gray socks would be a luxury item in Nigeria, and here I was, throwing them away.

The worn-out socks were no less fraught with emotion. These were the formerly “good” socks that had seen better days. If a toe would suddenly punch through the end, my worries would be over, but this never seemed to happen. Instead, my socks wore out incrementally until they are not really doing what socks are supposed to do—keep my feet warm. At what point would I feel zero guilt for throwing them away? I was stuck.

But being surrounded with things that have no use is exhausting, so I am chipping away. After I got rid of thirteen pair of socks, I put the new pair my sister had given me in the drawer. I could actually see all my remaining socks. The drawer had extra space. It was a revelation. I looked over at my massive collection of scarves…

I decided socks were enough for one day.

Till next time,


Carrie Classon’s memoir, “Blue Yarn,” will be released in April 2019. Learn more at