Last Monday, I sat in the dentist’s chair as he tried to break off the five year old ‘temporary cement’ on my front tooth, and I mentally cursed my 16 year old self for her carelessness.
Sometime in the 1980’s I had ridden my bike down a hill thinking the most important thing was to get to my job at Payless drugstore on time. I hadn’t worn a helmet (although I knew better) because it was 80 degrees outside and the sweat would mess up my hair.
I saw the stop sign at the end of the road where I had lived for most of my life and went to use my usual trick: ignore the stop sign and pull to the left side of the road, wait for traffic to clear and then move to the right side of the road. But the stop sign was at the bottom of the hill, my bike was a bit old and rickety with brakes I hadn’t dealt with appropriately and the van was coming my way in the left lane at exactly the wrong time. I looked to the right to see if I could move over and then crashed into the front of the grill, flying up onto the windshield with my face.
I owe my life to the fact that the driver had mostly stopped by the time I hit him. Every so often I envision what my nose must have looked like from his perspective, squashed up on the glass in front of him. I’m sure it wasn’t my best look. I didn’t see him gasp. I had shut my eyes.
I was remarkably lucky and only lost my front tooth to the incident along with a few aches that will never go away in my neck and knee. I made it through 20 years with a root canal and then the shell of a tooth snapped on a Starbucks sausage sandwich, of all things.
Since then I’ve had an implant with a slightly grey gum line just above it. My dentist was trying to fix the color for me. He snapped off the cement of the white tooth cap and unscrewed the hardware in my jaw to hand it to the lab guy waiting and looking down at me as they discussed how to best rework the porcelain to ‘pink-up’ my gums. The lab guy needed to work on it overnight so I left the office with an embarrassing gap, praying I would not have an accident or get a ticket as I drove.
I went directly home that night to my sweet family and listened to them chuckle a little as they said it didn’t look that bad. No, my son would not go to junior high looking like that. “But,” he said, “we’re family, Mom. It’s fine.”
I rushed back for my tooth first thing the next morning eager to comfortably say words with fricative sounds once more. The gum is now slightly less grey, and the experience certainly made me grateful once again that modern dentistry helps me with my past mistakes.
As I thought about it, I realized mistakes like running my bike into a van have helped me have the courage to step forward with other potentially mortifying experiences like blogging. I’ve found that in posting over the past year and a half, I’ve made plenty of blunders that aren’t unlike walking around toothless with my IQ lowered by 10 points just by smiling. It’s not that anyone openly mocks me. But in my imagination, at least, plenty have turned away and said something to their friends.
All of which is leading up to my next step in this writing business. I’m talking a break from my mostly weekly postings. Using a book by Dan Blank I am sitting back, looking at where I’ve been, pondering where I am going and exploring what I’d like most to do with this space I’ve created on the web. I expect this blogging root canal to take about a month which means I’ll be back online in some form by February 1st. In the end, I may decide an implant is needed and completely recreate the blog. We’ll see. Whatever I do, I know I owe thanks to the writers who have gone before me for sharing their wisdom like I owe my dentist with his medical magic.