Adult Beginner stares into the abyss.

A few months ago I organized my big box of letters.
Gentle Reader, do you have one of these somewhere, stored in your parents’ house or up on a shelf in your garage?
Every letter from everyone ever?
Mine is a 12 gallon plastic storage tub, and it was full of chaos, just Worlds Colliding all over the place: best friend, pen pals, boy friends, grandparents, all jumbled up together, unread since the first time, plus a ton of those little folded-up-passed-in-class notes that high school girls do. Or did. Who knows anymore.
Settled in with the box and over the next few weeks sorted them all out by person and tied them in little bundles. With ribbon. I know. Such a girl thing to do but ribbon actually is, I found, the most efficient way to keep all these different sized stacks of different shaped things together. Considered consulting an archivist friend on how they do, but nah, Ribbon 4-Ever.
Except the folded passed-in-class high-school notes. Left those free-floating in the bottom of the box because they are very much like jellybeans: you don’t even really like them, but you grab a handful at random and get hooked on the trashy yumminess and suddenly realize you’ve eaten half the bag/been reading for two hours and your tummy/head hurts but you don’t want to stop just one more handful one more handful.
Sorting letters means reading them, and reading them means consuming in one or two sittings the rise and fall of an entire relationship, and then another and another, and even with the insight that a decade or two of distance and maturity brings, that’s some heady stuff.
It’s crazy to see how powerful words are, that, like, I’ve read all these letters before, they’ve already shaped me, they’re in me, they are me, but they can still hit me all over again in new surprising ways.
Anyway, the other day, consulting with the dental surgeon about my wisdom teeth, he was like, “If we remove this one here this nerve could sustain damage and there’s a risk of facial numbness, so let’s just not,” and I was like, “but just temporary numbness, right?” And he was like, “Nope, could be permanent.” And I was like, “but what about when I’m old, won’t it be a problem to still have that one back there?” And he was basically like, “well let’s say you live into your eighties,” (and I’m freaking out thinking what do you mean, ‘let’s say?’ What are you seeing? What do you know that I don’t??!!!) and he continues, “at that point, the risk of facial numbness is, kinda, not so bad comparatively.”
And I immediately got that weird time portal feeling I sometimes get, except this time instead of being linked to a happy moment in the future I felt linked to a scary sad future moment, and I also immediately thought of one of the letters, from a high school boyfriend, right after I’d broken up with him and he told his mother and he was crying and she cried too and she told him, “You can expect to go through this many more times in your life” and when I read that at age sixteen I just thought it was weird that she had cried too but to read it now at age 37 it makes me want to cry and cry, I mean what a devastating, bleak, dire thing to say to a teenager, and sitting there in the dentist’s office while having my weird time portal feeling and remembering this letter all I could think was (super drama, you ready?) ITS ALL OVER, from now on I can expect to experience that time portal feeling many more times IN A BLEAK AND DIRE WAY ONLY BECAUSE I’M GETTING OLD!!!!!!
Super. Drama.
Anyway, what I’m trying to get at is:
That whole day leading up to the dental consultation I’d been feeling cranky and scared and sad and heavy and tired and worried and stressed out and had been thinking I’d skip ballet and just, like, be sad all evening and forever, but driving home from the consultation, all filled with the image of being so old I don’t even care if I can’t feel part of my face, all I wanted to do was get to ballet class and use my body and feel it be strong and solid and happy.

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About adultbeginner

Had my first ballet class Ever at the advanced age of thirty-two. Yikes.
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8 Responses to Adult Beginner stares into the abyss.

  1. Barbara says:

    Yes ballet is healing medicine for me as well. My very first dance teacher had a best friend dying of cancer in the hospital. She said people asked her how she could take class when her best friend was dying and her answer……how can I not????

  2. kitteacat says:

    Isn’t it depressing that people don’t write letters anymore? Kids aren’t passing notes in class – they’re texting. And 20 years from now there won’t be a letter box for them to go through. That makes me feel sad. Guess I need to get my butt into ballet class too to dance away the melancholy . . .

    • And then buy some stamps on the way home.

    • One big advantage Digital Age Kids have, though, is pictures.
      Just now looking through some old photos I was noticing two things: 1, there aren’t a whole lot of ‘em, and 2, the majority aren’t that great. And it’s not because I’m ugly or anything, it’s because almost the photos all stand-still-frozen-smile-at-the-camera photos, very few candid, no carefully controlled selfies, and no way to know if it was a good or bad photo or if you should take twenty more snaps until weeks later when the film came back.
      So they might be missing out on the letters thing, but These Kids Today have got photos going for them.

  3. Lauren says:

    This. This is the reason why I don’t get rid of that stuff. Because sometimes it just needs to be read and reread and FELT. A few weeks ago I was trying to wipe an ancient computer. On it, I had stashed a series of files – all the old emails my college boyfriend and I had written back and forth to each other, and wanted to make sure I saved them somewhere so I could read them sometime in the future and remember. In the process, my computer blue screened me, the hard drive completely shot. Now those emails are completely inaccessible. Lost forever. Makes me wish we had written notes to each other…

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