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Carless- Day Eleven -The Missing Tooth

missing tooth
For the first week or so after going carless, the ghost of the red Honda seemed to haunt the driveway. Looking out my office window, I’d catch just a fleeting glimpse of it, projected, I suppose, by my steam-powered perceiving facility; as if it had just then gone and I was seeing its last few lingering molecules hanging in the humid air.

Now, the haunt seems over. It’s been about a week since I caught myself thinking that I’d just hop in the car. I didn’t hesitate Sunday morning to ride the bike up to the hardware store for rock salt. We didn’t think twice about strolling over to the Farmers’ Market and back. Alternates rule now.

In May, I was traveling in Colorado when a wisdom tooth flared up. Nothing like a medical emergency while traveling to leave me feeling absolutely peg-legged. Through a fog of anguish, I found a dentist and managed to drive there, though I got lost several times on the way, even though I had the receptionist on the phone guiding me in. The tooth seemed to take away my ability to perceive, to think.

The dentist referred me to a specialist who referred me to an oral surgeon, who pulled the offending tooth the next day. The whole experience, from flare up to extraction, left me dumb and disoriented. Then came the weeks of Missing Tooth Syndrome. If I’ve been aware of anything in the weeks since, I’ve been aware of my missing tooth: The initially gaping space back there. The slowly shrinking divot left behind. My mouth still feels misshapen, alien.

I’m less self-conscious about my missing tooth now, and soon my tongue will tire of probing the vacancy. The heightened awareness I’ve experienced missing my tooth might mirror my experience with the car. I will likely waste much of this mindfulness probing the vacancy rather than attending to what this heightened perception might bring into focus.

I catch fleeting molecules while completely missing the new worlds I might see from here.

©2012 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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