First, do not get your hopes up. While statistically there are likely to be accumulated matches, lost socks have long defied established data.
Next, do not dump the whole pile out onto the floor. You will be flooded with the despair stored in the toes of every singleton, constricted in the rectangular prism of a holding basket. Start laying a few out at a time, like dealing a deck of cards.
In fact, consider acquiring a deck of tarot cards. Deal them and match the cards thematically with sock patterns. You will feel better as these purposeless items have found function in the newly invented approach to vestimentomancy.
If you have allergies, you may regret direct action. Dump the basket directly into the washer and call it a full load, but life is busy, and you risk returning the socks to the same basket unsorted and dooming them to continued dormancy.
Look deeply into the fact that you have waited ten years to deal with this problem. Consider the number of baskets of laundry you have balanced on top of this basket, compressing dust and socks and a singular handkerchief into metamorphic rock.
You will eventually reach the bottom. Your problems transmute at the full exposure of that scuffed expanse of white. You must face that there are no more socks. Those unmatched remain unmatched.
They must be discarded.
If you are the sort of person who associates memories with details as delicate as the fit of socks over the ankle of a loved one, you may frame one single sock in a shadow box. Prepare yourself for questions about it from guests.
You will try to keep them for crafts, a patchwork quilt though you never made it past batting. Stuffies with buttons for eyes though you balk at the repetition of hand-sewing. Some unknown future possibility. All eventualities lead you to another container full of socks that you will have to sort through ten years from now.
If it’s too much, turn your face away. Decide to embrace the eccentricity of mismatch. Stripe with stripe, color compliments or color opposites. Close enough shades of black.
Once your task is complete, fill the laundry basket with something else immediately. Such an object will inevitably have taken on any latent accessory-related magic and in the vacuum may begin to attract single socks from neighbors. Now might be a good time to wash your curtains, or clean out the dry goods at the very back of your cabinets.
Prepare yourself for the reality that sock matches to the abandoned singles you have rid yourself of may appear. You could not have known or anticipated this outcome. Some may have been under a curse to only reveal themselves once they were sufficient distance from their mate. They do not want your pity. Banish them from your sight.
Face the loneliness. They were once together, worn together, folded together. They are no longer what they were.
Neither are you.
Jerica Taylor is a non-binary neurodivergent queer cook, birder, and chicken herder. Their work has appeared in Schuylkill Valley Journal, Postscript, Stone of Madness, and perhappened. She lives with her wife and young daughter in Western Massachusetts. Twitter: @jericatruly
photo by Nick Page (via unsplash)