Thursday, March 25, 2010


Last night, Annabeth lost two teeth. (Five minutes after this photo was taken, she pulled the second one.)

To say she 'lost' them is to put a rosy and passive blush onto what was surely an active (and, to judge from the blood loss, somewhat violent) extraction. They were very loose. And she wanted them out. She is almost 8 - and it is a rite of passage she was starting to fear was passing her by entirely. We assisted, at her request, in helping her narrowly dodge that fate.

Her tiny teeth were collected by a fairy. Prior to that offering, I held them up to my teeth. They were a quarter the size. I cannot imagine the her that will emerge with her new giant teeth. How it will change her face. Her between-grins-grin will smile gummily from First Communion photos next month, and from atop her sparkly leotard in her annual gymnastics recital. There is a sweetness in the toothlessness, the loss of baby that exits with the milk teeth.

I remember lost teeth. A palpable loss. You can stick your tongue where there had been a tooth and the raw, yielding gums around space are at once fascinating and somewhat horrifying. You admire your freakish toothless appearance - and, if you are me (which I know for certain you are not. But hear me out...) you are plagued with a lifetime's supply of nightmares and anxiety dreams that perfectly replicate that tongue-to-gap differentness.

Other losses tend to be less tangible. Something was here, now it's gone - and maybe something will replace it. I missed, oddly, babies in my belly for the first weeks after each was born. They seemed safer there. I miss places I've moved from, people that used to be in my life. The memories are foggy, though. There is no muscle memory that can replicate my grandfather's giant hand - with leathery back, crooked strong fingers, and calloused palms; the smell of the ocean after hours at the end of a hot day; the first voices of each of my children.

I lost my job. I can't even grasp that one yet. And I really, truly care so much less than I am supposed to. I know I should look. But at the moment, I am so grateful for the spaces in which I can organize other spaces. I like this in-between place, with no clear sense of what is next. Oddly, I am afraid I like it a bit much.

Yesterday, I had jury duty - which I approach with the heavy sense of responsibility - a Pollyanna-ish belief that this is my Duty. That this is Democracy. Jobless, it was no hardship. I thought of Denise, who is a judge. Robin and Agatha who work for judges. I served, though I was never called. Six hours later, I got up from my seat and left Gavin's Kindle behind. A new toy I was just getting used to, a novel I had 18% completed (per the measure below and to the left of the text.) Gone.

On the way home, Gav called me. Oblivious, as yet, to the missing Kindle, he was warning me about the drive - which route to take. Atlanta traffic, the hassle of here-to-there - the plotting of alternatives. And then? I never saw my phone again. It's here. Though I have torn apart the car, the couch, the garage, bookshelves. I have offered cash prizes to household members. And I can't believe I am being kept from several active Scrabble games.

The organized, fantasy me would have one spot for all those baby teeth. They would be labled with dates. They would be in tiny pill bottles, specific to each child. That me would never leave a Kindle behind, would know where my phone is, would have current calendars up and would have begun the real spring cleaning I vaguely imagine. That me would have a fat savings account from years of careful attention. That me would be called on that phone by friends who would say "wow! I don't know how you stay so organized! So disciplined! You make it look so easy!"

This me needs to look for the phone, get the job, replace the Kindle, do the laundry, make the new calendars and get started with dinner. And every bit of it is much easier than I will manage to make it look. (Well, except for the job bit. But I can blame the economy for that one.)

So. Annabeth lost teeth. I lost, a few weeks back, a consistent paycheck. Yesterday I lost a Kindle. And an iPhone.

Tomorrow, I think I will work on gaining.


  1. Again you have written words from my heart ... eerie how you do that. Losses that shadow my days ... beginnings that are so elusive I never seem to quite grasp them ... and a me that I am sure exists but have never seen.

    Although a Kindle and a phone in the same day is probably something of a record :)

  2. Well, yeah. Or you could be me, who had a book club friend find a Jordan tooth (in its tiny ziplock bag, carefully labeled with tooth identifier -- they are letters for deciduous teeth and yes I have that in my phone memos for ready reference -- and date of loss. My child thinks the tooth fairy is a stickler for record keeping) from in between the party plates. Not sure how it got there ... but my insanity was decidedly confirmed.

  3. but the fantasy you would certainly not have the way with words that the real, truly loved and appreciated you - does certainly have.

  4. Cat,
    Love this....the imagery of tiny teeth, calloused hands, civic duty, maternal instincts and household duties! All tied together so beautifully and interwoven w/ real world personal experiences of things missing and then other things found......and some never found but replaced!!!! Love it, sister!