The Little Things You Do

About two weeks ago I noticed that the toothpaste tube was getting a bit thin.

I brush my teeth twice a day. I remember terrifying visits to the dentist every six months as a child. The acerbic smell, the squeaky latex and the heavy leaden apron that allegedly protected you from the Gamma radiation pumping out of the contraption in the corner (wait, isn’t lead poisonous?). The cold, cold, freakishly cold room with the unlikely table that required you to strap in and sign away. The overhead interrogation lights that eerily resembled that scene from Fire in the Sky (google it, it’s worth it), and the fact that they insisted on conversation as soon as they stuffed your mouth so full of apparatus that you could hardly enunciate ‘yargh’ and ‘nerph’.

My sister is a dental professional now and I think it’s fascinating. Somebody should write a book about the psychology of dental visits, or at least a lengthy paper. People often discount the value that proper dental care adds to their life. I wish there was a way to teach people how much it matters before they go into debt to get a procedure that could have been avoided.

Anyway. About two weeks ago I noticed that we were running low on toothpaste. Normally I would have got in the cupboard and replaced the tube with a fresh one. I don’t know exactly why I didn’t.

The next day I brushed my teeth without even acknowledging it, and probably the day after that as well.

Within a few days it became apparent that we were totally out of toothpaste and I should just get a new tube. For some reason I was overcome by a juvenile compulsion not to replace the toothpaste and force my partner to do it. Maybe it’s because she’s the one that uses the majority of the toilet paper, but oddly I’m the one who always winds up in those awkward situations that force me to think “Damnit, I should’ve checked first!”

So every day I watched as the toothpaste tube slowly dwindled and laughed like a petty little mastermind. I was actually quite surprised that everytime I went to put a dollop on my toothbrush I successfully coaxed a generous amount out of the paper-thin tube.

I realized about a week into this that she probably felt the same way I did. It dawned on me at that moment that things like this are what make relationships, the daily-life things that nobody ever talks about. The little things you do to interact with and share with the person you love. The inside jokes and unspoken conventions that nobody else will ever know about. The little heart drawn in the steam on the mirror, the furtive glance when someone else unknowingly speaks a keyword, the way they steal the good pillow, or the single word that conveys an entire conversation. These are the things that we must not ignore, the things that the outside world doesn’t even know about but jealously covets and vies against for your attention.

Go out of your way to let somebody know you love them. It seems so simple and trivial and we often take it for granted, but it seems to me that it’s the most important thing we face everyday. I don’t mean to open anybody’s wounds, in fact I mean to inspire all who read this to cherish those around them. The time we have with each other is the most precious thing known to man and the only person who can deprive you of that is yourself.

I had to dig this out of the trash tonight to take this photo and share these thoughts with you. Thanks for stopping in.

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‘Love is that condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own.’ – Robert A. Heinlein

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