I’m on University Ave. at my old college. I wiggle a top-front tooth back and forth between my forefinger and thumb. Then spit the tooth out onto my palm. No blood. Just a tooth. Then spit out the two surrounding that one. Two more drop out without spitting. Then two more. Two more. Then my bottom row of teeth. I try to keep half my teeth in my mouth but accidentally swallow them. The other half bounce onto my palm and then fall through my fingers, roll under bushes and into gutters. I try screaming for help but I’m choking on teeth stuck in my airpipe. I chomp my jaw together and gums touch gums. No teeth left.
And then I wake up. And know I’ll have the nightmare again in the next few sleeps.
It’s a nightmare I consistently had when I moved to Seattle for a year. When I got my first editor job. When I graduated from college. When I joined the lung transplant waiting list. And now.
Conveniently, there’s a whole site devoted to interpreting this nightmare. I don’t mean DreamDictionary.com (which, oddly, leads to a Dell Computer sales site). There’s an actual TeethFallingOutDream.org. Apparently, it’s not an uncommon nightmare. Here’s what they have to say about it:
I guess it checks out. Well, no anxiety-inducing sexual experiences, but the rest is legit.
Kristina and I broke up a couple months ago, after six years of dating. It’s something I’ve accepted and I fully support her decision. She’s been with me her entire adult life, so a need for self-discovery makes total sense. Heck, I’ve been with her my entire adult life. So maybe it’s time I discover myself as well.
We’ve mostly made life plans through the lens of the other. And everything needed to be rushed when cystic fibrosis was jabbing its tendrils into every aspect of life. Now I’m finally healthy and things don’t seem so urgent anymore. And we aren’t as dependent on each other. You have the vows, “In sickness and in health,” right? Well, we tested the torrid torrents of sickness. But health, ironically, proved to be harder for the relationship.
So, we’ve accepted the split. She will stay in Hawaii, I will stay in California. We’re still friends.
But life’s revolution has been knocked off balance. Most plans make almost no sense now that we aren’t life partners. In short, life has changed big time. Plans need to be changed big time. So the teeth thing makes sense. I have new lungs, new hearing, new friends, I’m at a new-ish place, and I need a new job.
Honestly, it scares me.
Funnily enough, the cheaply-made teeth dream website made me feel better. I really liked the latter portion of the TeethFallingOutDream.org webpage. It listed brighter perspectives on the dream:
The Jungian interpretation intrigues me most. “Times of renewal and ‘rebirth.'” Isn’t that what transplantation is all about? Through the tough experiences (what I call the “grindstone of life”), my character has only sharpened. For once in my life, I don’t have to compete quite as hard for a fair shot at opportunities. New lungs, new ears, new health, new endurance.
As cliche as it is, I can’t avoid thinking of a phoenix — burned to ash, reborn full and strong.
Did I seriously just use the phoenix comparison?
New teeth will grow in. This isn’t a weak point, it’s my strongest.