Since I had teeth, I'd been going to the same Dentist, it was great! They knew me, I liked them, and there's something special about returning to a space where nothing really changes. I guess It's like having your favorite bar, like in Cheers - the same people, the same feeling and "Everybody Knows Your Name".
Over the past 5 years I moved a couple of times, and then settled down in a town 5 hours away. I'd bought a home with my partner, but really didn't feel like I had settled down until I'd found my own dentist. We all know that's the truest proof of residency. It was weird, but I went with it. I was friendly, and tried to create connection with each employee I met. I was in a new town and needed my Cheers style dentist. It all went as good as expected, I suppose. Upon my first visit I learned I had a cavity - my first ever! Was I suspicious of the fact that I never had cavities when I went to my old dentist, and suddenly with my first dentist in the outside world, I received my first cavity? Yes. I was suspicious. Maybe if I was in a space where my teeth were comfortable and known, they wouldn't rebel and start to self destruct from the inside out in the form of a cavity. So the first meeting was not ideal. The second meeting? Well that's when I got my cavity filled. Again, not great, but I did have a wonderful conversation with the hygienist who was working on the filling. All in all it was about a 5 out of 10. But I didn't have to worry about that Dentist much longer!
Recently I moved back to my hometown, and despite the heartbreak and stressful logistics that came with that - there was a bright side - I was able to go back to my Dentist! Yes! Everything would be just right with the world again. Relationships can end, jobs can come and go, honestly the world can be a crumbling disastrous hurricane that makes you question reality, and knocks you on your butt over and over - but as long as you've got you're Dentist to go to, then my friend - you are in good company and all is well!! Dramatic? Over Exaggerated? Not even. If anything, I might be underplaying the importance a solid Dentist practice can have on the life of a 30 something woman trying to navigate the ever changing and ridiculous world we live in. A solid Dentist can provide the stability that an introverted, career driven and recently heartbroken woman needs.
Anyway... it was Dentist time. I was hesitant because I was sure I had a cavity and I wasn't really interested in giving the Dentist whatever was left in my rapidly diminishing savings account. I love them, but not that much. The day of the Dentist arrive. I showed up on time, as I always do. When I reached the entrance to the office, lettering on the window of the door read "Employees Only". I checked the parking lot, I was in the right space. Something was off.
I looked around and noticed there was another entrance just 20' away that very clearly had "Entrance" written on the glass in large letters. Not a great start. I can read, but I was acting out of habit. My expectations of my experience were shattered slowly, with entrance trick, and then all at once. Upon entering the office, everything had changed. The office had been remodeled. And not only did my favorite front desk employee, Linda, no longer work there, but my Hygienist Karen also no longer worked there. Karen was an avid runner and the day before my visit I ran my first ever half marathon and was so excited to tell her all about it.
As I sat in the new comfy chairs (a welcomed addition), I slowed my breathing and accepted the fact that my Cheers style Dentist office had changed. But does that mean it's wrong and I can't enjoy it? Not at all. I decided to keep an open mind. My new Hygienist was wonderful, the Dentist who looked at my teeth was actually really freaking awesome. I loved her approach, and together the two of them were an incredible team; explaining things to me in a clear way where I understood what was going on without feeling talked down to. We agreed to be conservative with things, and I even was excited to leave with a new toothpaste to try! It was a success by all measures, but the real test of the experience was yet to happen.
I walked up to the receptionist to check out and pay, feeling so proud of myself for accepting the changes, and allowing myself to change along with them. Then it happened.... I glanced in the corner between the receptionist barrier and the waiting room chairs and there it was: wooden, painted, just sitting there like it wasn't a big deal. The Treasure Box. (Just sitting there next to the waiting room seats? It's a freaking Treasure box! You can't have that laying around like it's another table to stack junk magazines upon.)
I looked at the receptionist and said "Oh you guys still have the treasure box? That is awesome". She was busy looking at her screen and sort of acknowledged my comment, but quickly continued working.
I couldn't let it go. "Is it for anyone?" I asked. "The kids love it" she replied, again without taking more than a second to look at me before going back to the screen. Again, I knew I couldn't let it go. "Can I check out the Treasure Box?" the words almost shook as they slowly came out of my mouth (my nice and clean mouth, I'll add). Oh my god I wanted to go in the treasure box! Screw accepting the change! Screw it all - Linda, the 'real' front desk lady always knew I loved going in the treasure box and she used to take it out from underneath its hiding spot below the desk to put it on top of the counter for me before I ever had to ask.
The wait was forever, until I received a brief response "If you really want to, but it's for the kids". Ummmm Yes I really want to!!
A second later I was crouched over the treasure box and shuffling through all of the options of little treats and toys to take home, probably letting out little giggles and noises along the way! I didn't think about it before I looked up and said "It's okay that you don't have the Army parachute man toy anymore" (it used to be a favorite, but there were plenty of other goodies in there!). The receptionist stood up from her chair so she could see me better, and gave out a little giggle before letting me know that they haven't seen the Army parachute men in a while! But she did used to like those as well.
I could sense a shift; her tone and energy was so different. So I continued to think and process my choice and reasonings out loud, "hmm do I go for the unicorn key chain? or the rubber basketball keychain?" To which she said, "one little girl said that it wasn't a unicorn, but it was a Pegasus. I'm not sure she was right though." I took the keychain out, we examined it together, with smiles on our faces and agreed it was definitely a Unicorn! Cheerfully and very satisfied with myself for my choice of treasure, I attached the keychain next to my car keys and said "If anyone asks me about this awesome Unicorn, I'll tell them to come to Carbondale Family Dental". Again she laughed and looked at me this time instead of looking at her computer screen, we connected! Before I knew it I had scheduled my next appointment, and was walking out the door - with my new unicorn keychain and toothpaste in hand.
This might have been the best dentist experience yet! I smiled the entire drive home and thanked myself for staying true to me. Yes the treasure box is for kids, but who says that being a kid has an age limit? There's an inner child in all of us; one who is dying to dig into the treasure box! But we've done such a good job of ignoring that inner child, shutting it down, and saying there is no space for them in the adult world. It's my goal to continue connecting to my inner child, and follow her lead despite what judgments, opinions or shame is thrown my way. Because I can guarantee you when I am connected to my inner child, life is vibrant, filled with opportunity and it is beautiful! I choose to live my life in a world where unicorns not only exist, but are on my keychain!