I once thought braces were sexy. Not in the tousled hair, pouty lips kind of way, just…awesome, I guess. I was in the seventh grade. And aside from my then-unappreciated perfect vision, aligned teeth, & face-of-zits, I totally wanted braces. And glasses, too, but that is another story.
Everybody had them, those glowing metal railroad tracks that made their mouths beautiful. And I kind of thought it was magic—the foodstuffs once tucked between the rims & saliva that hung from the rubberbands was turned into a gleaming white smile when they finally got them taken off. And I was just left with straight teeth, sans crystal chicklets where my chompers were.
I’m sure there were other things before the braces: dolls & earrings & new snap bracelets from Claire’s in 1992 & sticky hands from the pizza parlor $0.25-prize machine. But the absurdity of me actually wanting them at age 13 is something laughable now as the first real, tangible thing that I’d considered saving my own pennies for. Dentists visits were never painful, only sourly disappointing when I heard the “welp, see you next time” & got a doggie bag of new flossers & a neon toothbrush without mention of referral to an orthodontist. I don’t remember laying awake at night or pining for the savory snacks stuck in those sweet colorful rims…but I do remember that them, the braces, the railroad tracks, the bleached chicklet teeth that came after, those were a big freaking deal.
And now, another 13 years later, I’m thanking my lucky stars that I have straight teeth (& no cavities thankyouverymuch). Which makes me wonder what I’ll look back on in another 13 years and laugh at the absurdity of my jealous tendencies toward something so…ridiculous.
I’m kind of like, growing up. Last week when I stepped on the scale, I realized (to my dismay) that the age of muscle-for-fat-exchange has come upon me. Those extra pounds don’t shed as easily. My ganglion cyst in my wrist joint has arthritic properties that make me feel like I’m 65 years old with arthritis-something-fierce. In case you were wondering, I still gets zits. And life? WOWZA. Nobody told us it would be this…this… challenging.
In many ways, with each passing birthday I feel like I return to that 13 year old straight-teeth-zitty-faced girl who looks at all the others with their shiny rims & newly-chicklet-ized teeth and wishes, if only it was me or mine or part of my life.
As a result, we are trying to be more intentional about our lives. I feel like I’ve gotten so caught up in wanting, in paying attention to things outside myself, that I’ve lost touch with who I really am. Kind of like stuffing yourself so full of corndogs & elephant ears at the state fair in August that you lose touch of what hunger feels like until October.
I was so proud of Jon when he agreed to get rid of cable. The TV sits silent in the evenings now & our dinner conversation is filled with well, conversation. I’ve committed to no more clothes-buying, which is difficult for me—although admittedly laughable that a twenty-something loves clothes this much. We’ve stopped buying pop & treats & sweets at the grocery store because we want them to be special again. Our dates, instead of dinners out, now consist of coffee & dessert outings—something our pant size & perfectly-full stomachs have thanked us for. And, though the process is long, we are both working on reducing our wants, paring down our yearnings, & focusing on what God wants us to have through what He’s given us right now.
The best part is that we’re on the same page, finally. In it together.
And so a couple of weeks ago when he came home from work and told me he had a surprise for me, I knew I’d like it.
The red car pulled into the parking lot with the red sign. We both got dipped cones, his chocolate & mine butterscotch. And we walked around the parking lot holding hands & eating our ice cream cones before they melted in the
$3.78 later, I still had straight teeth. "You know, I really like this," I said to him.
"Good," he said, "we'll have dates like this again."
And with that, we both crunched on our cones, carefree of stored food specks during akward seventh-grade-dates.
It was perfect.