Went to the dentist’s today. It’s an office I’ve been visiting for years, even though I moved out of its neighborhood a couple years ago.

I walk in the door a few minutes early, and get brought in for my examination. I sit in the chair, and chat with my hygienist. I look forward to this part of my appointments the most. She tells me her daughter’s enjoying her freshman year of college, especially her biology classes. Her daughter’s even gone so far as to teach her freshman roommates bits of Amharic. My hygienist couldn’t stop giggling at the thought of the videos her daughter sends her, where her American-born friends try out their vocabulary for their friend’s mother. “Their accents are…not good.” She’s laughing. I’m laughing, too.

Once she finishes her work, my dentist comes in. He’s a big bear of a man, but I’m always surprised at how quietly he enters a room. He’s one of those “firm handshake, direct eye contact”-kind of guys, with a surname that Google once suggested is Syrian. He’s just as quick with a smile as he is with a gentle admonishment about my flossing habits. (I know, I know.) We joke about the weather — “you’re wearing a short-sleeve shirt! it’s so cold out, are you sure?” — before I get a clap on my back, and clean bill of health. (Save for the flossing thing. I know, I know.)

These two are the reason I keep visiting this office, even though I moved away some time ago. They work kindly, quickly but steadily, under lights cold and bright, some storebought art on the walls. In the background, the office radio quietly plays interviews with various congressfolk, many of them opining about immigration policies.

Once they’re finished, I schedule my next appointment, and I go home.