My jaw joint (located just in front of the ear) is inflamed. You can’t tell from looking at it but I sure can feel it. Apparently, I’ve been grinding my teeth in my sleep. The inflamed joint was diagnosed a week ago, and since then it’s spread to the other side of my face and part of my throat. So, I don’t know. I might just collapse into a heap of pieces. My days are clearly numbered.
It’s funny that I am a tooth-grinder. I’m also a shoulder-tenser, a nail-biter, a back-huncher and a brow-furrower. Where is all this tension coming from, though? Used to be, I could blame it on school or work. Now I’ve stripped all sources of stress away from my life and I am left with the simple truth: I am a very worried person.
I worry about global warming. I worry that Gene might never want to have kids and I might someday want to. I worry that a guy might whistle at me on the street, that all my books might burn down in an apartment fire, that a friend will tell me what she REALLY thinks of me. Should I be cleaning the house more, writing more fiction, wearing a more attractive shade of nail polish? Should I be more outgoing? I worry that a doorway might open into another world and I won’t have any money when I get there and will starve before I have any magical adventures. (I used to keep a small cloth pouch of loose change in my bedroom for just this emergency.) I worry that the flight attendant on the plane might ask me a question I wasn’t expecting. I worry that someone I love will die, as a judgment on me because I didn’t spend enough time worrying about it and trying to picture it.
I think I worry to stave off trouble. I live in a beautiful apartment, in the city I love best in the world, with the person I most want to live with, doing a job I love, and looking the way I want to look. I have never done anything to deserve this and I worry that I am at the beginning of my particular bildungsroman, not the end, and there are trials by fire ahead of me. I worry so that the gods and cosmic narrators will know that I am not really enjoying myself. Even though I’m eating this banana in the store, I fully intend to pay for it. I will pay for it. Look, I’m paying for it now.
And so I pay a little every day, and waste half the pleasure of having the banana in the first place.