Tooth aches


It's too long to explain exactly how and why we ended up in Santa Barbara.

Long story short, Jason had a bad tooth and no dental insurance. Great kindness led us to a dentist in Santa Barbara who was able to work a deal with us -- Jason would be able to get a root canal without running up a huge amount of debt.

I took the day off work to make the drive with Jason, even though he assured me he could do it on his own. I don't know exactly what a root canal involves, but I didn't want him all hopped up on laughing gas three hours away with no ability to get home.

In the dentist's office I was armed with a book and a fresh journal, but even so, I was restless and tired after just 20 minutes of waiting. Then the surgeon poked his head out the door and said the process would take quite a while. At least two hours, probably three.

"Go see Santa Barbara. Do some shopping. Enjoy the day," he said.

Who was I to argue?

So I left. But first I handed my number to the office manager and said to give me a call on my cell if Jason got done early.

It was a weird afternoon. The sun flickered through the clouds, then the sky suddenly buckled with hail.

I walked around in the rain, enjoying the feel of fat, wet drops on my skin, my hands wrapped around a steaming hot venti Americano. I think it was the first time I've been outside in the rain since I moved to California. I slowly savored the window displays of the trendy boutiques, the jewelry shops I can't afford, each nook in the bookstores.

And I had a lot of conversations with strangers. Apparently I look a lot like someone who lives in Santa Barbara, as random people kept stopping me on the street and in the tiny shops.

"I haven't seen you around lately. You look fantastic," they said. "You've lost a lot of weight, haven't you?"

"Yeah," I said. "Thanks for noticing."

It was a complete lie. But hey, it's always nice to soak up compliments, even if they were intended for someone else.

After about two hours I figured I would call the dentist's office and check up on Jason. I rifled through my purse. No phone. I checked all the pockets I never use. No phone. I squatted on the street in the rain, scouring the deepest, darkest depths of my bags. No phone.

Panicked, I drove back to the dentist's office.

Jason was waiting there, his right hand gingerly holding his swollen face, the other hand holding his unfilled prescription for Vicodin.

He had been waiting for more than an hour. I missed 27 phone calls.

After I left the office, the dentist poked aorund in his mouth and realized the whole molar had to go. A quick yank, and it was done.

It'll be thousands to put in a replacement tooth; in the meantime, he just has a hole. A big, gaping, bloody hole in the back of his mouth.

And I'm the asshole who left him there, waiting in pain.

I cried and he hugged me.

"You're lucky you didn't get here 15 minutes ago," he said, slurring through the cotton in his mouth. "I was angry 15 minutes ago. But then I just got scared something had happened to you."

There's no good reason for Jason to still love me. But he does.

And I love the fact that he was perfectly within his right to get mad at me, but he chose not to.

If that had been me waiting at the dentist's office? Ye-OW.

At least the ocean looked beautiful. That was our big payoff for an otherwise crappy day.

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By Blogger CHIC-HANDSOME, at 7:21 PM  

good year    

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