Dodging Traffic
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A Hot Minute

Hot minute

I am back on the mountain for a hot minute and it's been a long month in the valley. It's easier to remember, even when I'm in it, that this is only for now, not for always.

Two buildings, Motel 6-like, sit side by side back from the road, almost invisible if you're not looking for them. I still have to look for the red fire hydrant at the sidewalk to find the driveway. It's a long driveway.

There are sixteen units, eight each, four up, and four down. I've opened my 'front' door only a handful of times because I enter and exit from the back. Almost everyone, even the upstairs people, enter and exit from the back. Almost. There's a pair that prefer to walk in the back door to the front of the building and up the internal stairs - out onto the top deck and in the front door. Probably makes a difference how they experience the space. I'm OK with a back door directly into the second bedroom because it's my office. I might feel differently if I was sleeping in it. Deadbolt or no deadbolt. 

Right now, because there's still some daylight early evening, and the weather has been fortunate, I sit at the back of the property with a book and notice my neighbors coming home. I've only met two neighbors, the families at the end of the north end because we park side by side and there are children. Mostly quiet children. 

It's quiet here, almost spooky quiet. I don't know why. Not yet, and I should be grateful because I need the quiet, but this is weird quiet. I didn't trust it for the first week or two, kept expecting noise and busy and the raw emotion of daily life. Not so much. It's not a complaint, just an observation and a query.

I don't know why, she says. It wasn't always this way but people are respectful and the walls are thin.

They're not so thin, I tell her. I don't hear a damn thing at night and I know there are kids.

How can you not hear?

I don't know. Maybe after sixteen months of furniture moving above my head (the dining room was right above my head) at 2am I can sleep through almost anything. My dad is restless.

It's been a rugged four weeks in the valley. Stuff kept happening and my body hurt and I didn't know why and I sure wasn't sleeping much. Work was and remains a decent distraction plus they pay me for my time. But stuff kept happening.

I still don't understand the spike in blood pressure but I've got a theory or two. I'm not so panicked anymore because I know perfectly well I've not dropped dead of it and I'm fully functional. And I've got, after all these years without, decent medical attention.

I had a tooth go bad. Molar #31, lower right side, all the way to the back. I'd had it capped and it was dicey but he thought it would do. There was a fracture that maybe happened during the process or maybe after because I crunch hard candy. I used to crunch hard candy. No more. It was sugarless so I told myself I wasn't hurting anything. I was.

Last Sunday night, just before midnight, the pain in my body finally localized in the jaw right under #31. I slept on a bag of ice under a towel and changed it twice. In the morning, 7:30 because I know those people show up before the first 8am appointment, I parked myself and waited. Nobody wants to see a dental emergency at 7:30am on a Monday, least of all me but there I was. 

I got lucky. There was an endodontist opening same day and a root canal started and stopped because, she said, the tooth is shot. That fracture put an end to it. I got lucky again and filled an oral surgery opening on Wednesday but that tooth did not want to come out. Divide and conquer, he said. We're going to divide and conquer and I quietly lost my shit but then it was over. A big hole, tooth out in multiple pieces, a bone graft and two big nasty stitches that will be removed in a bit. 

And my blood pressure is still up but I'm sleeping at night which more than gets me through the day and they are good days. 

It's been a lot. These four weeks and a medical crisis and a bad tooth and a trip to Cambridge for work and a wedding weekend after that. All good. Every last minute including the day my boss walked me back to my hotel and all the way to my door for a nap because I crashed. 

It's been a lot and for a while there I thought I was sinking but this hot minute, back on the mountain says otherwise. 

I'm swimming and I'm strong. Maybe strongest in my life because I'm swimming against a cross current but it's only for now and I can see the way through. There is only the weight of me and lonely as that turns out to feel just now, it's ever so much easier. 

It's only for now. And you know what? I actually know that.