Monday, August 5, 2013

the ontological transfigurations of socks

[Overheard In Theatre Camp This Week]

The Girls: Excuse me, we have a question.
Me: Yes?
(giggles and whispers) 
The Girls: You ask her! No, you ask her!
Me: Girls. What is it?
The Girls: Are you married? You look married.
Me: I'm not married.
Boy: Of course she's not married! She's a teenager.
The Girls: You're not a teenager! Aren't you a grown-up? 
Me: Well. I'm not a teenager either.
Boy: ...?
Me: I'm in my twenties.
Boy: Oh. So you're like a teenager.
Me: Sure.
Boy: Have you past age seventeen?
Me: Yes.
Boy: WOW.

Upon hearing the story, my mom laughed: He doesn't understand the world of Twenty.
I don't understand the world of Twenty, I responded.

I went to wake up my Mom one morning, because I needed to ask her a question.
She was sleeping, as most human beings do at the ungodly early-ish hours I find myself waking up at this week. I thought I was stronger than jet-lag, but every time nine o'clock pm rolls around, and I find myself falling asleep in the middle of a dinner with friends, I realize jet lag's a bastard that's hard to beat.

I stood by my mom's bedside, and whispered urgently, sotto voce:
I started.
I felt that the voice that came out of my mouth was no longer my own. In my ears, I swore I heard the squeaky little voice of my three-year-old self, calling out the perpetual antiphon of Mahhm, Mahhhhhm.
I looked at my mom sleeping peacefully, and wondered.
I wondered at how many times I had wandered to her bedside at an ungodly early hour, and woken her up to comfort me after a nightmare, or to answer a question about the nature of eternity "But Mahhhm, it's scary!", or to announce I'd gotten sick in the hallway on the way to the bathroom.

Never had I thought about what it's like to be on the receiving ends of those plaintive cries of "Mahhhm...Mahhhhhhm"
And I blushed with shame for being twenty-something and about to wake my Mom out of several minutes of precious slumber for any reason that wasn't a tier-one medical emergency.
And so I tip-toed out of her room, while she slept as peacefully as a baby.

If we are all truly on a journey, and none of us is ever actually home, then the duty or goal or call of a parent is truly a very strange and difficult call--to make a home on the way.
In a world that is filled with danger, to convince a child that they are safe.
To somehow, with some of their homely parental magic, create a commune that smacks of home-i-ness in the face of the foreign-ness of the world.
To teach their young offspring perhaps the most important lesson a human being could ever learn: what home is.
Parents are quite mysterious creatures.


A sock, albeit ontologically transfigured, is still a sock.
And like all socks, is prone to emitting a putrid smell.
And losing its match, and bearing the shameful label: "mis-matched sock."
But no matter how putrid an unwashed sock smells, it retains the function of a sock.
We risk wearing these socks, because if we wore our tennis shoes without them, our feet would turn fungal.
A sock, albeit ontologically transfigured, is still a sock.

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