Friday, October 02, 2015
My Mom had this beautiful writing desk that now lives at my brothers, and she kept her stationary in it, along with sealing wax in deep green and a deep purple. Her seal was a scorpion - a nod to her zodiac sign. When I was little, she would get the mail, fold down the front of this desk, and sit to read through the mail, noting any cards or personal correspondence. I remember watching her take a match to the sealing wax and dropping it on the back of envelopes, and gently crushing it with her seal.
I thought it was magical and elegant.
I looked at this photo and I was surprised at something I either didn't know, or had forgotten. It's odd because I have this picture hundreds of times. But despite that, I missed this one fact.
My teeth are rotten. Look close - you can tell.
How does a child of three get rotten teeth? It happens when you are the first child and your parents are the lucky recipients of a baby who won't be comforted, who screams all the time. A baby who won't sleep except tightly in her mother's arms, this baby eventually found that if she just had a bottle - she would sleep. She would fall asleep drinking her bottle, and her parents would lay her down with the bottle still in her mouth. It was the only rest they got. It was the only reprieve they got from a very demanding baby.
The milk pooled in her mouth while she slept, and rotted the baby teeth under her gums.
And then there I was by the age of two, with a mouth full of rotten baby teeth. By about age three we had to start visiting the dentist because they started to crumble apart - and the extractions began. Sometimes they would pull out pieces. Sometimes they would shatter into tons of pieces as they pulled them out. Weirdly seeing this picture reminded me - I had dental work done regularly for about three years. I have always known it happened, it's not like a LOST memory. It's simply something that had slipped into the cracks.
I think that even though I KNEW I had rotten teeth I never considered myself a PERSON with rotten teeth but man there they are. Thank goodness they were just the baby teeth.
So it's weird, two memories conjured from one photo. One is of my mom sending those photos out to people, to my dad's family, to my Aunt Suzie, to her girlfriends. The other is my rotten teeth, now just a memory but staring back at me from my cheery round cheeked face. That's a happy kid. She's well loved, and lives in a new house that has a huge backyard with a fence. In about a month, on the day of the first snow, her dad is going to build a swingset in the backyard for her. The first things she will do is swing so high it tips over.
The next day her dad will set the posts in concrete.
It's strange all the things one snapshot will show you. It's also wonderful.