Songs are the most powerful memory triggers for me and the song "Ex" by little-known UK artist Dele just came on my iPod shuffle. It's slightly spooky because it's almost a year to the day I first heard this song and I will forever associate it with the Musician.
Turn the clock back one year and it's about 3 o'clock in the morning. I'm lying on my bed in floods of tears contemplating whether it'll be stupid to take myself to the hospital. I don't want to call any of my friends because I know they're all fast asleep by now. The toothache I've been ignoring for the last week is now making me feel like jumping out of my (1st floor) window. The trip to the emergency dentist I took earlier that day is looking pointless right about now. All the stupid woman did was tut about how she understood I must be in great pain but I should just take these antibiotics and a couple of ibuprofen and I should be okay in a couple of days. I can't remember the last time I cried because of physical pain and I've reached the end of my tether. I suddenly remember that the guy I met on the bus only 3 weeks before, and who I've been consequently "talking" to, is working late today so maybe he'll still be awake. He lives in the flat next to mine and without any regard for him thinking I'm weird, I call him and he picks up before the 3rd ring. All my efforts to mask the fact that I've been crying are in vain as I break down as soon as he asks me "what's wrong?" I tell him I haven't slept for the last two days because the pain keeps me awake. I've taken so many painkillers that I'm afraid I might need to get my stomach pumped.
A few minutes later, with me still sobbing on the phone, he tells me to come downstairs because he's standing outside my flat. He gives me a hug and a packet of industrial-strength painkillers he has left over from an operation he had last year. At this point, I'm beyond caring about what I'm ingesting into my body. I'm at the stage where all I want to do is not feel. Blissfully, I manage to sleep for 3 hours before the pain announces itself again. At the break of dawn, I get a call from him telling me to get dressed because he's driving me to A&E. As we make our way to King's College Hospital, he's trying to cheer me up by playing music he knows I like. He lies through his teeth that my face isn't that swollen but I saw him visibly flinch when I first entered his car. Still, I appreciate the sentiment.
Two hours later, I've been given some codeine and other unpronounceable painkillers while I wait so I no longer feel like slamming my hand in a door in order for that pain to distract me from the pain in my tooth. He, of the notoriously short attention span, is getting fidgety but still he waits with me. He gives me his iPod to listen to and says I should listen to this song because the guy is Nigerian and it's rare to find male R&B singers nowadays with some bass in their voice. As the music flows from the earphones, everything suddenly seems just that little bit better.
I have no idea why this song came up on my shuffle today but it made me realise just how easy it is for one terrible act to wipe out dozens of goods. I usually love this song but tonight, it's just succeeded in making me feel sad.
(I ended up having 4 teeth taken out under anaesthetic and stitches put in my mouth, so I wasn't playing about the pain...)
Kiss and Don't Tell
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