Two weeks ago I went to my dentist with a toothache. She took one look at my X-rays, put her hands on her hips and sighed.
“I know you have a toothache, but you’ve got bigger fish to fry,” she said.
A root canal, of all things, and not even on the tooth that hurt. Per her advice I scheduled it with another dentist of her choosing, and that following week I raced downtown from the office to the Upper East Side for the procedure. My phone had been ringing intermittently all morning, and as I crossed the busy street at 61st and Lexington Avenue I finally got to take that call – and was delivered very good news.
That corner of 61st and Lexington is known by me as the “Joan Didion’s Corner” because of the reference she makes to it in her sort-of-ode to New York, “Goodbye to all That.” I’ve always wanted to I be Joan Didion in a way, or better yet, some incarnation of her talent, to write in a her spirit of creative non-fiction, to inspect and present the truth in the most beautiful way possible.
So there, on Joan Didion’s corner, I got the most amazing news. I walked in to my root canal procedure smiling, and out of it with a half smile (the other half of my mouth still numb).
As soon as I celebrated my good news – and by “celebrated” I mean on the couch, with ice cream – I realized that this sort of life development would mean saying goodbye to a lot of people. It would mean leaving something old and comfortable for something new. In short: change.
I don’t do well with change.
In April 2012, I sat in the window of Paris’ Tea by Thé. It’s an ideal spot on the perimeter of an outdoor square where Rue Rivoli and Rue Palais Royal meet, directly across the street from the Lourve. I wrote in my journal that “I wish I could be in all places at all times, looking out of every window, seeing every person go by.”
When I think about endings and conclusions, I always remember that day, and that specific line. Sure, I was writing about windows, but in truth I was writing about life. If only we had the choice never to say goodbye. If progress and change could mean an addition instead of a severance, if we could access the essence of every moment whenever we wanted, as simple as opening a jar, blinking an eye, remembering.
If only the emergence of a new thing in my life did not mean that something else had to end.