Letter 002: Teeth

I feel like I’m gonna barf.

I’m ill — literally ill — with dread. My stomach is turning over in knots.

“So I’m getting those suckers extracted today. All four of them. This terrifies me.”

For six brief yet eternal months, we saw each other on a regular basis. It was mostly in passing, but every day I went to the studio, you would appear. It seemed deliberate, because you weren’t my instructor at first, and none of the other instructors made themselves known to me every day. Maybe this is just wishful thinking.

We would periodically update each other on our lives. Mostly it was me sharing details about my own life, because you asked, and it felt good to have someone to talk to who seemed to care. You always seemed to care.

I know that may just be your profession. You’re good with people — really good with women, especially. You know how to make us feel valued. Your short-term memory kind of sucks, but I’ll forgive it because you seem to remember the key things.

Now that we’re apart, I feel this void from not sharing the everyday moments with you. I used to talk to you in my head before our encounters. I would experience something funny, and you were the first person I wanted to share it with.

I think you did the same thing. “So this weekend something reminded me of you…” you would tell me, as if we weren’t on each other’s minds already. There was always a glimmer of excitement in your eyes when you had something amusing to share, because you knew I would laugh. God, you always knew how to make me laugh. Sometimes you even brought tears to my eyes.

“Tell me this, Eli…” You were ready for me upon my arrival one day. “…what’s the weirdest compliment you’ve ever received?”

I blinked at you. “I don’t even know how to answer that. This has to be going somewhere. Consider my interest piqued.”

“Okay!” You spread out your hands in front of you, painting a picture. “So my daughter and I went on a hike this weekend in Manchester, Tennessee — do you know where that is?”

“Man…chest…er…I don’t freaking know Tennessee geography!”

You laughed at that. “Okay so we were on this hike… and I kind of tossed my head back like this.” You threw your head back, your black locks hitting the sunlight just right. “And this kid came along and told me…“ (a Keanu Reeves voice kicked in) “…you should totally grow a mullet!”

Of course I laughed at that. I don’t even know what I’m going to do without you in my life.

The dread in my stomach is because I have to go under today. I’ve never been through any medical procedure in my life (other than giving birth, which unfortunately I was entirely lucid for), and the idea of being knocked out terrifies me.

As COVID-19 reared its ugly head, so did my wisdom teeth.

They’ve been lurking there a while, ready to strike — and oh how they struck.

They’re dead teeth. One of them is broken. They hurt like a miniature maniac stabbing me in the mouth with a razor blade.

So I’m getting those suckers extracted today. All four of them. This terrifies me.

It seems ironic that these wise teeth came in around the same time as my spiritual awakening. Hopefully I don’t lose my supernatural powers along with them. Kidding (maybe).

I know it’s an ordinary procedure, but I don’t like the idea of being forced into unconsciousness. I also have this fear that I’ll wake up in the middle of the procedure and feel everything — every minute touch of the cold, prodding tools, and hear the crack of bones breaking in my head — but I’ll be too paralyzed by the anesthesia to let them know I’m awake.

Stupid, right?

I just want you to take my hand into yours so I can feel your warmth, like you did when I told you my grandma died. You don’t remember that day, do you? I do. I remember everything you’ve done for me. My photographic memory locked you in, whether you want to be or not.

I’m foolish for thinking about you like this.

I know I’m vulnerable right now, in the wake of everything that’s happened this year. I was hoping you might take advantage of that.

You’re not here anymore, though, you’re elsewhere. I wonder what you’re doing right now. Probably working. Not thinking about me at all. Doing a virtual dance lesson (because of the Quarantine) with one of your many other female students. Making her laugh, instead of me. Lucky girl.

I wish I had a million dollars. I would buy up a lifetime of lessons with you. Just shut up and take my money, you charismatic jerk.

So I guess I’m going under without the comfort. Wish me luck. Hope you’re having a better day than I am. I don’t know when I’ll write next. It’s going to be a long day.

( Follow me on Medium.com | @elidhawk )

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