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It was the socks. They lay there on top of the sweaters, belts, and jeans in the last box—small, neat bundles like eggs spilled from the carton or small, chubby schoolchildren in matching uniforms, the little Nike swooshes forming lopsided smiles. Prepared for their journey, tingly even. I know it is a funny way to think about someone—through their socks, that is—but it was seeing Alex’s socks all packed up that made me cry. And made him laugh at me, because, of course, socks are nothing to cry about. Silly really. I surprised myself. What was it about the socks? I didn’t get emotional over his shoes or his pants, and was just fine saying goodbye to the stack of boxer shorts in various plaids and patterns. So what was it about the dozen or so white Nike socks? Could it be that they were a little snapshot, a little peek into the quirky, but methodical side of Alex, the side that, unlike the rest of us, always has perfect pairs of socks, never stragglers? Or maybe it was because I know his socks will tag along with him everyday, be an essential part of his life—dependable companions in class and in play. Or maybe I cried when I saw his socks because they just looked so ready to go.

The socks…of all things.