Do you have one type of clothing that you are fully addicted to stocking up on?

I have to own up to this oddity of mine.

As the seasons change, it’s a prompt for me to change my wardrobe. Alex finds this event, which happens in spring and autumn, quite funny. Since he is never cold, he owns but one sweater, and two sweatshirts which have permanently made their way into my wardrobe. This means he doesn’t have to dig them out of the plastic bins they’ve been compressed in for the summer and hope they will return to their fluffy wool or cotton state without having to be dry cleaned or washed. His attitude is especially irritating to me because I store my clothes clean and airtight, so having to rewash/dry-clean equals a big groaning ugh from me.

Wardrobe shifting is the perfect time to purge. 

Haven’t worn it? No longer fit it? It’s beyond looking new? Does it have rips or tears, how about the arbitrary ink stain? It’s gotta go. If it’s still usable, donate it, if not, consign it to the rag bag or throw it out, but move it on! I’m ruthless at doing this until I see that one garment I love even though I didn’t get to wear it last season. Someday I’m dressing for dinner in uptown Mt. Lebanon in the elegant emerald green gown I bought for an unattended Christmas party years ago and haven’t gotten to wear. Yet. It fits like it was custom made, is the perfect length and, well, dang it, I feel like Grace Kelly every time I put it on. Which is annually. I walk around in it for about five minutes, Alex cracks up, and I store it again, left pondering a leisurely evening discussing world events with Princess Grace.

Whenever I’m visiting, Jackie has me do this wardrobe job for her. When I lived in Red Lodge, it was my bi-annual chore because she hates closet reorganizing and I love it. That chance to refresh someone’s point of view by seeing their clothing through your eyes gives a bit of empowerment.

There’s nothing like eliminating the old to make room for the new as the current season comes in—it’s that whole pending change that I love. It’s knowing that winter will disappear into the beauty of spring.

When I do this for my sister, Jackie supplies wine or lattes depending on the time of day and we dive in. “But Seester,” I whine, “why do you still have this ugly freaking shirt?” She laughs, “It’s comfortable and I love it and forget it, you’re putting it back!” She often adds the occasions for which it is perfect, “Baking, cooking, cleaning, coloring my hair, vacuuming.” The list grows until I relent and return the item to the closet.

Perhaps I learned retaining the impractical and ugly from her. It’s such fun to place blame.

The one part of this process I hate is sorting socks. I no longer do this when Alex is at home. Nope, I hide this chore from him. Every time we go to the REI store, I bypass the other racks filled with color shirts and skorts and head straight for … The Sock Rack.

I love socks. LOVE socks. I have an entire drawer stuffed to barely closing of nothing but socks. Exercise socks, hiking socks, wool socks, knee socks, cashmere socks I only wear with slippers, walking shoe socks, summer ankle socks … you get it, right? Stuck for a gift idea for me? Here you are. For five bucks (or $18 if you shop at REI—Smart Wool are my favorite, followed by the REI brand and any sock made for left/right foot wearing—those truly are the best), get me socks and I’m a happy camper. Purple, yellow, green, pink (the only place I adorn myself with pink), doesn’t matter—I love every color. Stripes, swirls, graphics…. I’m good with any design, any pattern.

Which makes me wonder as I recently sorted through my black socks, where does this nonsense come from? Who needs nineteen pairs of black socks? Even if some are anklets and some are knee socks (let’s not talk about tights). When I discovered this astronomical number, over half went to the donation bag.

I mean who needs that many socks of one boring color?

Where does an obsession come from?

I wonder if this sock fetish of mine is a direct result of wanting more socks when I was a kid. Was there a trend toward super funky socks in the 1970s? Did I miss out on that like I did wearing love beads, ponchos, and tie-dye? Oh wait, adolescent me wore those things, much to parental eye rolling and head shaking.

We were well-provided for as children, but we did not have a lot of extras, or excesses, maybe I should say. Our house was nice, our clothes clean, we had more than one pair of shoes. But  perhaps we didn’t have an overabundance of toys, clothes, or those blasted funky socks.

Are human psychological motivators really that simple? Is that how simply our minds work? We didn’t have enough _______ as kids, so we overdo it in adulthood?

Do I now have twenty-five pairs of underwear and an uncounted (because I refuse to count them) number of socks because as children we had seven pairs of underwear, seven pairs of socks and three pairs of shoes: dress for church, tennis shoes and whatever little kids wore in the 1960s, probably black MaryJanes or white Keds, for school. 

Hmmm, that doesn’t explain my lack of being captivated by shoes. I once worked with two women who each admitted to owning over 100 pairs of shoes. Even then, when I had to trek daily into an office in suits, I think I topped out at 25 assorted pairs. I now own one pair each of tennis shoes, pumps, dress sandals, Danskos, winter boots, hiking shoes and hiking sandals, two pairs of worn out old scruffs I trod around in during wintertime and a beat up pair of hikers for yard work. New ones come in and old ones go out. And I have foot issues—which explains why I walk around Milan in Merrells or Oboz—whichever hiking shoe I love at the moment.

To go deeper, is that hanging on to the basics of our personalities from childhood what keeps me pursuing a writing life? 

I announced out loud when I was twelve that what I wanted to be when I grew up was a writer. So in addition to those various socks, I have a file cabinet full of story starts and finished duds and words that are begging to be re-written into something more wonderful than how they started. Well, I also wanted to be Katharine Hepburn, but that slot was already filled and back then I was too shy to be an actress. I figured as a writer, I could be anyone I wanted throughout my life and share it from the safety of my typewriter, word processor, computer … the devices advance while the desire to share stays the same.

If my proliferation of different types of socks is any sign of what I have to contribute in life as a writer … look out … my writing fetish is exploding!