Mikayla the hygienist calls my name. She leads me down a marble hallway – comments on new door frames and her’s sons manufacturing business and upcoming wedding and her frustration at their young marriage. I force my mouth to curve into a sympathetic smile for this stranger. Spouts of small talk. We have not yet completed the length of the hallway, and already, this lady’s voice is tiresome.
I hop into the cushioned seat, coloured with a shade of grey that reminds me of the metal lockers I used in middle school. The hygienist points out the “beautiful view” and I scoff, try to cover it up as a cough. Because through the window I see nothing but a run down street, cracking at the side walk and an abandoned parking lot, positioned beside a rickety building.
I hold my phone with both hands, replying to snapchats and playing my trivia game, but it it seems this is not adequate to block the stream of questions.
She asks me about the weather and before I have a chance to reply, she is saying that is is lovely and nicely temperatured. Again, I look to the window in confusion. The clouds are wiped in a thick mass across the sky, it is gloomy and dim, not quite raining, and the streets are coloured dark by last night’s downpour. It is not the sort of weather one calls lovely. But who knows.
Continuing, she asks me about school and Christmas shopping and how my exams went and the number of siblings I have. Something inside me is cringing. The pain of small talk shreds my insides apart. But I must reply politely. I answer in single sentences. She grabs a metal prong, inches closer to me, and my eyes have no alternative but to scan the layers of make-up caked on her cheekbones and rose-pink eyeshadow painted on her eyelids. She wears a paper mask over her mouth, and uses her tools to begin poking my teeth. Still she continues to talk. I try to reply with grunts and the movement of my eyes. Does she not realize that my mouth is currently being prodded with a metal prong and I have no way of responding? I do not even know the polite action at this point.
Contrary to most humans, I have always enjoyed the dentist. They poke and prod, stuff my mouth with cardboard trays, scrap their tools across my pearly whites, but in the end, I walk away feeling like my teeth have just been through spring cleaning. They have never felt better. And in my mind, they have never looked better.
Yet today, the metal poking actually inflicts me with physical pain. I am a big girl; I must not complain. So I sink my shoulder blades deeper into the seat cushion, a subtle display of my discomfort. The hygienist doesn’t notice. She continues to poke and talk, yes, she is still talking. Now it is about Starbucks and their holiday drinks and how this morning they made her gingerbread latte much too sweet and then did not have time to re-make her drink.
Maybe if I close my eyes and pretend to sleep she’ll stop talking? Does she do this with each patient? How absolutely exhausting. Small talk of weather and Starbucks and holiday shopping with ten strangers every single day… I would not be capable of this. These conversations seem so incredibly pointless to me, empty, void, a waste of breathe.
We progress to the instrument that scraps mint on my teeth and the filter that sucks all remaining guck from my mouth, and she has finally quieted, run out of words perhaps. Ahh the silence. I enjoy the terrible view out the window and the sensation of my teeth being cleaned; my other senses come alive when my ears no longer are required for listening. We proceed symbiotically. I am still, subject to her work, and she does her work, precisely and efficiently. I think about how wonderful this is.
How wonderful it is to co-exist in silence with one another.
I just hate people
I cannot tell you the amount of times I have heard this statement made by some of the closest people in my life.
It always seem to be the introverted people in my life who say this. They use the words as a blanket statement, to articulate their love for solitude and frustration with the human race.
Its irony occurs to me. Here I am, building a relationship with this person, and they tell me they hate humans. I too, am part of the human population. I cannot help but take it personally; the words drop an anchor in my chest. Because narcissistically, I want to be the one person excluded from that statement. I hate everyone BUT you Mikayla. Your the only human I like.
And I realize that those people – the ones who tell me they hate people – it is not intended to be a personal insult but rather, a claim to their solitude. The statement is less of a hatred for people and more of an affinity for being alone.
This is why I have always loved those sorts of introverted people.
They keep very few people in their lives and do not trust easily. Upon meeting them, you start at the bottom and slowly, earn your way into their trust. But once you become important to them, they will never let you go – you are their’s forever.
I aspire to be like this.
I no longer want to be friends with three thousand people, I just want one person.
Grey’s anatomy speaks to me. I watch Christina and Meredith, people who hold human’s at an arms length and approach life with a cold demeanour, but they have each other – they are each other’s person. I love this. Watch a clip of them here.
Bitterness grows quickly. Like a weed. And then its 10:00pm, sobs rack my body, pain claws through the empty spaces. All I can do is stare at the white wall, and imagine what it would be like to not exist at all. I should probably not be alone right now. I should probably call a friend. Yet there is not a single person on the planet I want to be around right now.
Friendship seems to me about as stable as a paper-clip. People are wrapped up in their own lives, they find new friends they like better and leave the old ones lonely. Conversation never heals, words take too much breath and I just wonder – what is the point of it all? Do people even matter?
Somehow in the bitterness and messiness of it all, I know that people matter.
So I call a friend. Sob into her arms, tell her about the emptiness and all the fantasies that frighten me. Her kindness tells me that I must not hate myself. She says that strength is small things. The phone call. The admission that something needs to change.
I have learned to love solitude and silence.
I sure didn’t always love it. It used to frighten me.
Yet I am changing. Growing, learning, and coping. And today I breath in the quiet spaces and decide that I will only trust a few and no longer give my heart away so easily. We were never meant for 500 facebook friends and 100 instagram followers, but those one or two people that really matter.