Thursday, January 7, 2010


Since getting a haircut Tuesday, I have been thinking about faces.

My own face has changed dramatically over my lifetime, thanks to anatomy and medicine.
When my teeth first came in, I had an underbite. That is, my lower jaw jutted forward of my upper. My mother took me to the "best" local orthodontist, with the result that at 6 I wore a space age chin guard (a metal cup with leather straps in which I slept at night, which was supposed to move my jaw backward). I also wore braces. Years later, my right temperomandibular joint ruptured.
After the disc rupture was arthroscopically repaired, my lower jaw swung to the left dramatically, and when I closed my back teeth, my front teeth were still separated by several millimeters. I experienced serious pain and discomfort, and I was unable to eat or speak normally for some time. Following more than five years of treatment (including several surgeries, braces, and retainers), my three doctors -- dentist, orthodontist, surgeon -- agreed that my problem had arisen from an anatomical anomaly rather than from sudden bone loss. A grueling day-long surgery reshaped the roof of my mouth, so my teeth now enjoy a relatively normal relationship to one another. However, my chin has retreated into my neck, and my inherited chin dimple is all but gone. Folks who did know me in childhood, youth, and early adulthood do not know how different I look, but I do. I am forever surprised by my own face to the extent that I avoid photography whenever possible. That admission is ironic, given my pleasure in photographing people I love.

Here we are, some of us -- me over time, some of them over time, and those I love who never knew the old me.Faces for the folks inside them are one thing; for those of us on the outside, something else entirely. Aren't they lovely?

1 comment:

llmaumus said...

lovely, yes, quite lovely....