I lie my head right down in his lap and he asks, “Whatcha been up to?”
That evening by the pool under the veil of a dark, summer sky
I struggled with a similar answer, asked of another friend.
What do I tell him? Do I offer the Sunday School answer
that is quick and neat and easy ….
is it possible to give a short answer ….
children moving, purging and cleaning, projects,
Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, traveling, visitors, parties ….
We have talked to some degree of depth before … if you can call it that, me sitting in a chair in his office … him hovering over me with instruments in hand. He has been my dentist for years now. Yet, I know time is short and am not sure how to fittingly answer his query so I simply reply,
“uhhhhmmmmm …….. s . t . u . f . f ??”
He belly laughs up against my head, his strong, gloved hands now guiding my head into a proper position for viewing my molars. He quips as he chuckles and leans down to tell me with Santa-depth in his voice, “I’ve been doing ‘stuff,’ too!” I know I’ve been misunderstood … a newly single woman.
Sexual intimacy …..
nothing could be farther from my “wanting to be holy” heart
or closer to the struggles in my physical life and intangible thoughts.
My tooth has had a dull ache. It is not constant. The pain rears its nasty head when I eat something I should not … like a peppermint candy cane or toffee bits sprinkled graciously over freezing ice cream and carrot cake. These sticky, thick treats are a tempting desire, but leave me throbbing until that tooth is brushed clean again. This is a new sensation for me. I have only experienced this five or six times in the last few months … but I do not want it to worsen, so I head to the healer, protector, mender of teeth.
I have never had a cavity before. My biological mother offered the genetic make up of strong teeth that have served me well these forty-eight years. At my last visit, being concerned about having lost my dental insurance after my divorce, I asked my dentist, “Is fifty a magic number? Are teeth like eyesight?…. Will their health begin to crumble at an age that ends with a zero?” Amused, he answered, “No, not at all.” And yet … I find myself back within six months of that visit with the first experience with dental decay in my lifetime. One cavity in almost-fifty-years is a good record. But, I certainly do not want this to be the f.i.r.s.t in a string of events in this caramel colored chair.
Following the “stuff” exchange, the dentist and I offer a few back-and-forths and then he quickly brings the conversation back around and then he wonders out loud, “Do you have a boyfriend?” I hesitate a bit with my verbal answer “Yes …. sort of.” I think of my answer “stuff” and he could use that in a misconstrued manner. And I am remembering how Stone continues to struggle with introducing me as his “girl friend.” Having spent all of last week together, he had many chances to introduce me to friends and acquaintances. He chooses the words, “This is my friend, Karen. We grew up together in Thomasville.” Somehow, I feel more like a drinking buddy than a passion or a commitment. I often feel like he ought to slap me on the back as he introduces me. It is a little bit difficult, to be honest. I can.not have a conversation with a friend at church, through email or at a store without bringing him up. And my eyes often well with tears as I share how God is working in my life. Our personalities are so different in some areas …. He tells me that he is a private person.
I am just as comfortable standing on a table with a microphone …
as I am blogging …
as I am on a stage …
as I am teaching a class.
I don’t believe in taboo subjects …
just taboo or inappropriate ways to discuss them.
I think openness and honesty
permeated with tact and grace
are the richest forms of exchange.
And I would rather delve into the difficult
than skirt around it with fluff.
Yes, he and I definitely have a different approach
to life, speech, conversation, sharing in this area.
I certainly do not want to embarrass him.
My parents have known that I’ve been blogging for years. Only recently have they subscribed to my posts. Yet, even my own father has noticed that my posting has been … sporadic and inconsistent of late. I’m struggling with what to share
how to say it
what is appropriate
and what is “too honest.”
With Stone’s degree of self-protection
and my lack of it,
I’ve waffled around with the topics that I feel I am at liberty to expound upon.
Stone chooses not to read my blog ….
unless I specifically send him a link to a post.
I don’t do that often since he’s a busy man …
I don’t want to intrude and appear to be “the demanding girlfriend” ….
well … because I’m NOT “the demanding girlfriend.”
So, I’m a thinker that “overanalyzes” (Stone’s phrasiology),
thinks … ruminates … ponders ….
and he’s a protected, private man that doesn’t open up easily
and prefers to live “protected” emotionally.
Do you see my conundrum?
Yes, the term “girl friend” sounds high-schoolish. Stone is not just a crush or a passing infatuation. He is an …. investment. Like any relationship, he is work … as I KNOW that I am, as well. We are adjusting and learning and growing. I tell people all the time … Stone, Joy, friends …. “people are messy.” It’s true. Relationships involve people. People are messy. But, relationships and people are worth the work.
The dentist refers to my “boyfriend” answer with, “Ohhhhhh. So, you h.a.v.e been doing “stuff,” and I feel a gentle fury well up within me as I quip back at him unbridled, “No. Having a boyfriend doesn’t mean that I am doing ‘stuff’ and that’s why I hesitated with my answer to your ‘boyfriend’ question in the first place.” I explain that, without a ring on my finger, there should be no sexual intimacy. Before long, he questions me further for clarification. He wonders, “You mean, you don’t try out the ride beforehand?” His question does not surprise me. From my reclined position, I point to the open palm of my left hand with my right index finger as if holding an open book of scripture in my hand and explain, “God’s word says it’s not okay,” and I flip my hand around to slap the back of my right hand into my palm and exclaim, “I want to please God more than I want to please man.” Then I slump a bit in spirit and expound further, “I know. There aren’t many like me any more. I’m an older model.”
With my passion, the topic comes to a close.
I think of the many parallels between the spiritual and physical worlds ….
I think of decay …
in my teeth, in my life, in the world around us.
I think of God’s perfect will in a perfect world …
complete joyful obedience and perfect bodies without deterioration.
I think of the struggle to keep away from those tempting tastes and lusts
that get stuck in your teeth and your spirit …
that weaken my body and my soul …
that rot my teeth, my thoughts, my being.
I think of the break in the dentin … and the wound in fellowship
when we indulge and further injure our broken, fallen bodies.
And I remember again that God will provide a way out
if I will watch for it and take it when it is offered.
To comfort myself, I ask if I can play music while the dentist drills. I touch the iPod icon on my phone and choose a favorite song. My gums have been deadened and I feel no pain. The sound and the smells are new to me, but there is no discomfort. My dentist performs his task and I lie there reclined, praying and humming as he works … but, yes, squeezing the assistant’s hand. I pray that the procedure works and I will experience no residual pain … I trust him to remove all the decay and plug the hole with his dental magic.
And I simultaneously think of God, the healer, protector and mender of my soul … who fills my spirit with a song as He works his magic in my life. I squeeze tightly to the Holy Spirit knowing there may be residual pain from foolish choices to indulge in lustful sweets. I cry out for a way of escape though I know that decay is part of this fallen world. Yet, with my failings, He is never ashamed to call me His. I am messy and I am work, but He draws me to Him constantly loving me in my messy state. There is no thought, word or deed that will ever surprise Him. He loves me in a way that the world that does not understand. It is a wonderful, beautiful passion. I lie my head right down in His lap as I pour out my heart to His question, “Whatcha been doing lately?” … knowing that He knows the answer, but wants to hear my response anyway.