They met at a rummage sale: sad, discarded, useless objects that needed to become shiny and special through novelty. Grapes had known Socks vaguely, but they had never been close, and finding Socks under these strained circumstances evoked in Grapes a certain tenderness that had thus far been dormant. Grapes was in the throes of that first recovery from heartbreak, not the heartbreak of losing a lover, but that of losing faith in yourself, the sudden knowledge that maybe the world isn't in love with you, or against you, just indifferent. It had left Grapes with a new kindness towards weakness in itself and others.
Before Grapes might have been embarrassed to be seen at a rummage sale, out there with the dusty plastic cuckoo clock whose wood grain was obviously fake and the Budweiser mirror. At the very least, it would have been positive that anyone it met there would have to be a bigger loser than itself. But now it saw the beauty in humility, in lives led despite disappointment and loss.
Grapes started a conversation with Socks, and Socks was pleased to be noticed. Just out of a long relationship, Socks was ready for anyone or anything that made it feel more itself, not just part of a pair, special in its own right. Socks was tired of being in a couple, someone's second half, apairofsocks, one word, no individual identity. At the same time, Socks was scared of facing the world alone, after all that time safe inside the shared protection of coupledom. Socks had to restrain itself from using the word "we" in its answers to Grapes' questions about what Socks had been up to, and its stories reflected the careful deletion of its ex. "Well, I've been traveling, a lot, you know, backpacking around Europe," (when it had been the two of them, apairofsocks, in that backpack). "In Scotland I got to the train station five minutes after the train left and everything was closed in this tiny little town and I had to spend the night in the station,"(implying it was only Socks, leaving out the sex in the bathroom). Grapes knew about the breakup, everyone knew about the breakup, and Grapes found Socks' dissimulation touchingly awkward, as well as a clear sign that Socks was interested.
"Wow, I'd love to hear more stories of your adventures," Grapes said.
"Well, let's get out of here," Socks answered, and Grapes knew Socks wanted them to go home together. Grapes was sick of itself, of its own thoughts and fears and Socks' attention provided a welcome distraction.
Rebound, rebound, rebound.
That night Socks rediscovered its body as something that belonged to itself. The moves Socks had perfected with its ex were useless with Grapes. When Socks moved furiously against Grapes, looking to create that electricity that would glue their bodies together, Grapes touched Socks gently and said, "Slow down," offering itself up to be consumed. So Socks did, and learned new moves, and fell asleep warm and happy.
Grapes and Socks were the most communicative
of lovers, the most understanding. Socks told Grapes that it wasn't ready
for anything big, and Grapes listened, but nonetheless, neither of them
was surprised when Grapes started to spend every night at Socks' place.
Their relationship was defined by its lack of craziness: they did their
best to be fair, and kind, and open with one another. For the first time
in its life, Grapes was coming to understand the meaning of the word serenity,
and Socks was a big part of this. Grapes stopped worrying
all the time, and settled into the serious business of living and working