Senior Staff Writer Brigid Cromwell had to refer to her Courseworks pages to remember the classes she’s taken at Columbia, but her socks helped her to remember.

While cleaning out my drawers in preparation for my move to New York City, I began to draw unlikely connections between the mismatched abandoned socks lurking in the shadows of my bureau and the classes I’ve taken at Columbia. We all have those articles of clothing that lie untouched for years in the deep recesses of our closets, serving only as reminders of our humble past. Whether it’s the training bra from Limited Too, the day of the week underwear from Kohls, or, most egregiously, the neon Nike crew socks that would make any middle schooler weep, the dressers of childhood bedrooms contain relics as coveted as those in the Great Pyramids. Without further ado, here are the mismatched socks in my drawer as classes I’ve taken at the magical mystical Columbia University in the City of New York.

  1. The baby sock that my grandmother ominously filled with quarters and sent to me in the mail

Marie Kondo would be appalled that I currently have a baby sock sitting at the bottom of my drawer. Does it spark joy? No. Does it fit? Certainly not. It could serve as a big toe warmer or maybe an ear hat, but that’s about it. My grandmother, who is notorious for her strange and unnerving gifts, mysteriously sent this sock to me filled with quarters and a wallet-sized picture of Jesus. This sock is reminiscent of the Abnormal Behavior course I took my sophomore fall. My grandmother exhibited abnormal behavior in this instance, forever linking the baby money Jesus sock to my psychology elective.

  1. The “this is what a feminist looks like” sock

Ah, yes. This is what a feminist’s foot looks like. They should hack my foot off when I die, throw it in some fluid, and put it in the Mutter Museum. I remember wearing this quirky sock in my conservative high school and thinking I was doing the most. This sock reminds me of Math Methods for Economics, the only economics course I have ever taken. We love a good women in STEM moment, and I vividly remember writing “I understand nothing!!!” on my AP Calc final in high school while wearing these infamous socks. 

  1. The Free People socks I bought for $5 at TJ Maxx

Finding these Free People socks in the dog food section of TJ Maxx was truly a diamond in the rough moment. These socks scream Intro to American Politics. They’re generic enough to be widely accepted by most people, they look only slightly different than every other striped sock in existence, and the only reason they were originally $30 is because of the brand. Similarly, Intro to American Politics is glorified APUSH. Whereas I got the socks for a discount, I unfortunately paid the luxury price when it came to taking a Columbnia course I got for free at my public high school. Then again, I probably should’ve just scored higher on the exam.

  1. Pig socks with holes in them

I stole these pig socks from my friend a few months ago, and I’ve worn them so many times that they now have gaping holes in them. I’ll compare these socks to American Television Drama, my favorite course at Barnard thus far. The socks and the course are eccentric but not pretentious, cutting edge, and generally crowd pleasers. 

  1. Random Under Armour sock

Last but not least, we have the ambiguous Under Armour sock. Perhaps the most unassuming sock of all time, I have at least seven of these at the bottom of my drawer, where they’ve sat for years on end. These socks are representative of my first-year seminar titled On Dreams and Nightmares. Like the blurred and hazy images in a dreamscape, these socks seem to blend into each other and the drawer itself, creating a mismatched amorphous blob. Together these socks form a somewhat even layer of cushioning at the bottom of the drawer for the more individualistic socks. That shadow person you see sitting on the edge of your bed when you wake up from a nightmare is wearing Under Armour ankle socks with their Asics. 

Honorable Mentions

My ex-boyfriend’s alien socks that I discarded in a dumpster in North Philadelphia

These socks occasionally plague my thoughts as I lie in bed at night, lingering between reality and the dream world. They sat in my drawer for weeks after I broke up with my ex-boyfriend taunting me with their smug alien faces and tacky design. Seeing as I had no desire to wear the socks and returning them to their loyal owner was out of the question, I decided the next logical step would be to dump them in the garbage outside my friend’s apartment, alongside a family of raccoons and a half-eaten McDonalds Big Mac. These socks remind me of the Intro to Java course I took my freshman year. Similarities include: being entirely unappealing, constantly invading my thoughts at unwelcome times, and reflecting two of the worst decisions I’ve ever made, academically and personally. May both these socks and that class rest in peace where they belong: the dumpster.     

My friend’s ex-boyfriend’s sock that we set ablaze

For some ungodly reason, my best friend and I dated men who left socks behind after their departure. Unlike the alien socks, these socks suffered a more tragic end, burning to a crisp in a show of symbolic transformation. These burning socks remind me of the Postmodernism course I took my sophomore spring. Unlike the master’s language, which is hotter and more coercive, my friend used a symbol—the fried sock—to represent the love lost between her and her ex. The charred sock defies the boundaries of language, frees us from rigid structures, and facilitates transcendence. (This Bwog post, which began as a funny reprieve from academics, now has me pouring over my Postmodernism notes from two semesters ago, trying to make sense of material I never understood to begin with.)