Holes in My Socks

Jennifer Loring
4 min readJul 12, 2019

The echoes of poverty haunt me long after my escape.

Photo by Giambra on Adobe Stock

I remember the first time my peers and I were asked to remove their shoes in gym class for some activity that inexplicably required such. While the other children excitedly flung off their little sneakers, I inched toward the back of the gym and slouched against the wall. My gym teacher asked me what was wrong.

I saw all those pristine, perfect white socks and was filled with the sort of shame no child should experience. “I have holes in my socks,” I said.

My teacher, to his credit — he was young and handsome and all the girls had a crush on him — tried to reassure me by saying that his socks had holes in them, too.

But he could never understand. He was a teacher. Someone with a salary and extra money for things like socks. My situation was…well, a bit different, to put it charitably.

By the time my mother was 27, she was divorced with two very young children and had been through detox and rehab for alcoholism. At some point, she decided she was entitled to be a full-time writer, rather than find reliable means to support herself and her children like a responsible adult. This meant that we lived on the $400 a month in child support my father sent, plus food stamps. She would also do taxes for a few people every year, despite her utter ineptitude with money. She became, a bit later in life, a compulsive shopper and eventually declared bankruptcy after running up several credit cards to the tune of about $60,000. The worst part was that she seemed completely oblivious to our lack of income. After all, she never had to go out in public if she didn’t want to. She didn’t care what her clothes looked like.

Because my mother has been mentally ill all her life and has notoriously poor judgment, she chose for us to live in poverty so that she could selfishly pursue her dream full-time despite not having the financial means to do so. We didn’t have a car and walked everywhere, so socks never lasted long. The only times I got new ones were at Christmas and just before the new school year started. We never went to the mall twenty miles away where everyone else shopped, though. Relegated to the department store in town at which our peers had made very clear that only poor people shopped, we’d slink back to school each fall in…

Jennifer Loring

Jennifer Loring is a doctoral candidate, horror writer, and Gen-Xer living her okayest life. Check out her website: https://jennifertloring.com