“We have to pull this one here out”, my dentist says smiling behind her surgical mask. “It’s not an emergency now, but it can create problems later on. So when you feel ready, let me know.”
I remember how the last wisdom tooth extraction went, about ten years ago or so. This elderly surgeon trying unsuccessfully to numb my pain as the infection in the tooth was preventing the anesthesia from doing its thing. Pulling and stopping to hug me and wipe the tears off my face, all this time telling me about a Turkish writer she liked and Leonard Cohen and concerts and what not.
“I’m sorry I’m crying”, I tell her all sweaty and red, “it’s just that it hurts so bad and I can’t help myself…”
“It’s ok, it won’t take much longer”, she says pushing her big boobs against my chest and neck and wrapping her right arm around my shoulders, pulling me close to her so that my tears land on her white robe.
So now, as I’m leaning back in the chair, noticing how the muscles in my arms and thighs are refusing to let go and keep building up tension, I’m telling myself I’m saying goodbye to the past to start a new chapter. The amazing one.
I’ve been saying goodbye to my wisdom tooth for about three weeks already and kept pouring in it rage, sadness, fear, anxiety and everything I’ve felt no longer serves me. I’ve been touching, liking, sucking, hitting it softly and repeatedly with the tip of my tongue to give it its last moments of pleasure before letting it go.
“Do you want to keep it?” my dentist asks holding it tightly in the shiny silver tongs. The extraction only took about five minutes and was painless and effortless. “I can clean it and give it to you, like I do with children…” she adds, her eyes smiling again above the light green surgical mask.
“No, thank you, I want to let go of it. I just want to see it and say goodbye. Can I have it?” I reply.
“Yes, of course”, she says and cleans it first so that I don’t freak out from the blood and gum pieces attached to it. When she finally places it in my hand, I feel so much compassion for the poor tooth. It looks bad. It’s got a big hole on one side and the big filling looks bad, too. But the most impressive is the root. So fragile, pink and still a little bit bloody, small pieces of flesh still holding on to it. This was stuck in my bone, I think as the tips of my fingers are touching it trying to soothe the pain it’s gone through. This is its first time outside my body. The first time out into the air. It’s like a birth, somehow.
“Thank you, dear tooth, thank you for serving me.” I say and my numb jaw is playing tricks on me as I’m trying to smile, my eyelid heavy and my lips a little bit confused. I tuck it in the white tissue and let it sleep.
“I’m feeling strange… Dreamy and out of this world. And I feel like I’m missing something…” I tell a friend the next day over breakfast at the school.
“Well, you know, teeth are the deposits of memories…” he says.
“I’m saying goodbye to the past. I put so many things in it…”
“It’s gonna take a few days to get used to the new situation. I felt the same when I had mine taken out. A feeling of absence. Physically I was ok, but emotionally it was strange. Another example of how nothing is randomly put in our bodies and everything has its place and purpose”, another friend who is a doctor tells me later on, so I no longer worry. I decide to be patient as attachments are dissolving and a new chapter begins.