Couture gown or parachute; can you imagine? You could drape princesses in midnight blue silk… or suspend soldiers leaping by night behind enemy lines FROM THE SAME FABRIC.

It boggles my mind. Tough and fragile; lightweight and strong as steel.

This huge contrast brought to you by the inside of your cheek – which (stay with me, here) is the silk of the human body.

I just had a tooth extracted. I lost the massive molar that’s almost at the back of the horseshoe of your teeth. Did you ever notice? That one is almost twice the size of the guy right next to it; it’s a whopper. Funny how many things about our own bodies that we take for granted until something gets up-ended, and then I’m all “hang on – this tooth is freaking HUGE. Has it always been this vast, or did I run afoul of some nuclear waste, or something??”

So there’s a gap in my tooth wall. A big one.

Everything is streamlined; there’s nothing poking into my cheek. It’s all sleek ivory and smooth gum wall and sibilant, slippery smoothness…

…and yet my inside cheek is being driven up the wall. I can feel tender places abrade as my teeth wear a new topography onto the silk that lies against it. I don’t understand it, but I know it’s going to take a while for my mouth to learn its new contours – and until that’s done, I might be slightly insane. Beg yer pardon.

The silk of my inner cheek – so supple and flexible – is learning a new pattern. AND THAT IS HARD.

Today I was doing remedial work with Barbara (the master guru trainer at Body Dynamics in Falls Church, VA) and thinking about patterns.

I was stepping on and off a low platform – maybe six inches – attempting to keep every part of me facing forward. (I tend to let my feet swivel outward, or my knees, or lord knows the many directions my hips can go.) Step up on right foot – swing left knee up and forward, don’t put the toe down – step back down on left foot – bring right foot back to start. Like all of Barbara’s “simple” exercises, it was leaving me drenched in sweat and muttering “Glute – left glute… aaaaaand RIGHT glute… weight on heel, knee up, hinge from the hips, step back, foot straight, right glute, LEFT glute…”

Sometimes I did pretty well; sometimes I was teetering all over the little platform. People nearby looked nervous as the “TIMBER!” looked more and more likely.

And I thought about the silk in my cheek.

We learn these patterns over the years and decades – like how the second-from-the-back molar lies against the cheek, or how the hips tilt to accommodate glutes that aren’t doing what they’re supposed to be doing – and they’re so ingrained that we don’t even recognize them. It’s not until something gets up-ended that the quick-fix solution loses its effectiveness.

Barbara’s goal, then, is to up-end my quick fix so I can learn to move more intelligently before something actually goes wrong. What a luxury that is! It’s so very hard to re-learn a decades-old pattern… but that’s no excuse not to try. Because it will be far easier to relearn it now than it will after something (like advancing age or a life of stress) takes the option out of the equation.

I have a bone graft in my jaw, healing so the dentist can put in a screw (the concept gives me the huge heebie-jeebies) and then implant a fake tooth. I know it’s the right thing to do, so I’m going to re-learn the patterns on the inside of my cheek… and my tongue is going to continue to wander, confused, into that empty socket in wonder… because that’s what it will take to maintain my health. I don’t like it, but the alternative is worse.

And if you’ve made it this far, then I’ll share that the stress that caused my tooth to finally crack was the rapid illness and death of my mother in June (she died on July 1), and the subsequent massive marathon my sisters and I underwent to empty her house. That’s done now, and I can focus on safeguarding my health once again. More blog posts in “The Adventures of a Fat Lady in Fitness Land” to come, and I’m sorry (more than I can say!) for my extended absence.

Now go think about silk gowns blissfully made from midnight-blue parachutes, because that’s way more fun than filling your head with remedial exercises and mortality. After all, silk (like you) is impossibly strong – but one rip in the wrong place and you’re naked on the ballroom floor. And you’re going to want to look good when that happens!

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2 thoughts on “Silk

  1. you always make me laugh, Pru, always. If only I looked that good in the split ball gown. So sorry to hear about your mom–being an orphan is hard! And clearing out a house is a huge task. Sounds like you are taking good care of yourself, though, and letting the nonessentials slide.

    I just got a wake-up call: tried to backpack a small section of the PCT that I missed in various section hikes and did a 13-mile day followed by a 20-miler. I have been hobbling about the house for two days now, and my shinsplints and sore calves and stiff back remind me that, at 65, I CANNOT DO WHAT I DID AT 25 or even 55!


  2. Welcome back!
    You were missed!
    Condolences to you, and your family, on the loss of your mother … may she always warm your heart.


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