Y’all! I started crying again. And having anxiety. Fear even. In the shower. In the car. At night. In the morning. Right in the middle of the afternoon. It started as I sat in the lobby of the orthodontist. As I sat among hormones and pimples and parents. Waiting for braces. For the first time since I was 14. Me. Now almost 40. Impressions. Photographs. Radiology. Metal. All at the orthodontist. Great.
I was a thumb sucker. The best one. Until I was 10. All my sisters were, too. Sorry, y’all. I’m totally calling you out. All the sisters. All the thumb sucking. All of us. All the time. So we went to the orthodontist. A lot. And so did our mama. God bless our mama. She’s lucky I didn’t ask her to join me last Wednesday. For the placement of my third set of braces. That’s right. Third. I figured two weeks in St. Pete for my surgery was enough for my sweet mama. She didn’t need another trip to the orthodontist.
As I sat in the lobby. The one with grey walls. White-washed plank floors. Pops of my favorite blue. On the verge of tears. With the reality of my surgery staring me right in the face. I started thinking about the whole point of braces. The reason why we metal up. The reason why we pay a shit ton to look ridiculous. Things must really be misaligned. If you need braces. Things must really be out of sorts. If you need braces. Things must really be unsteady. If you need braces. And I thought to myself. Shit. I need braces. Like legit. In more places than my mouth even.
I went to Sea World with my girl last weekend. No judgement please. I love dolphins. And orcas. And manatees. And all sea creatures. And we all gotta love each other. Whether we choose to visit Sea World or not. It was a Girl Scout adventure. The best. We slept with manatees. We rode rides. And got wet. And made good memories. Ones I won’t soon forget. They have new roller coaster. For those of you who don’t visit Sea World. The Mako. And it looks daunting. Even for someone who loves roller coasters. Like a lot. Even for me.
But I didn’t let that stop me. I got in line for the roller coaster with two other gals about my age. One chose the front row. The older one. The braver one. The one who probably does not need braces. Because she rides in the front. And is fearless. Me and the other chick. We chose row two. Because we were not so brave. Because we probably need braces. Well at least one of us does. And let me tell you. That was one hell of a ride. From the second row. Until we got off. Until they wanted to ride it again. Until I found myself standing in line for the front row. On the brink of vomit. Or diarrhea. Or both. But there I was. No turning back.
The climb itself had me questioning my sanity. Wondering if I could just raise my hand. Politely ask to stop the ride. So I could get off. But I refrained. And held on like hell to the bars in my lap. I started cursing the lady next to me. The fearless one. The one that does not need braces. The one that insisted I chance the front row. I closed my eyes. Peeked through the left. Squeezed them both tight. Peeked through the right. My fear was exploding. Saying things like: what have I done? This was a bad idea. I can’t open my eyes. You shouldn’t have made me do this. The second row was so much better. I can’t open my eyes. I can’t watch this. I cannot. I cannot. I cannot. And then we reached the summit.
In that moment. That second, really. When we hit the tippy top. When I felt the cables unleash. When I felt the bottom fall out. Two hundred feet of track below me. That’s when I surprised myself. That’s when I opened my eyes. When I let myself go. When I took every bit of my fear and threw it off the side of the track. When I soaked up all the energy and excitement racing through my body. And it took my breath away. In the best way possible. It made me stop thinking about surgery. And tears. And closure. And fear. I was present. In the moment. Free. And in no need of braces. Not one bit.
I thought a lot about that ride in the days that followed. Talked to my tribe about it. Relived it. Played it over and over in my head. And today. As I eat those last meals. Get in those last calls. And FaceTimes. And conversations. It’s right on the front lines of my mind. Before fear. And anxiety. And tears. It’s telling me a story about myself. About my bravery. And strength. And willingness to get uncomfortable. Take chances. About my ability to let go. And be.
Tomorrow I will have surgery. The one I’ve been talking about. Thinking about. Laughing about. Crying about. Writing about. Waiting for. And it may hurt. Like hell. Although I’m pretty sure the Morphine and Demerol will help with that. And I will have my mouth shut. For a while. But when I hit that summit. When the cables unleash. When the bottom falls out. I will be present. And free. And in no need of braces. Except for the ones on my teeth. And you better believe I’ll have my eyes wide open. I will listen. And I will just be.