When I was about to start the first grade back in 1979, my mother took me to the eye doctor. I am not sure what prompted the visit, nor do I recall an awful lot about the experience. I do know that my life going forward was different.
After an exam, I was asked to name my favorite color, then prompted to point to a pouch that I fancied. Which was confusing because kids in the 70’s generally didn’t get to have opinions about anything. I managed to choose the color blue, along with the pouch covered in Flintstones characters.
I would have probably been more comfortable starting with a less significant decision, such as, did I want cheese on my bologna sandwich. Instead, I was tasked with deciding which fashion eye wear I would prominently display on my face. Just in time to embark on my educational journey.
As if being poor, with an entire school wardrobe that consisted only of three dresses, along with a Dorthy Hamill haircut, wasn’t challenging enough, I would also be a four eyes. Which is exactly the name the boy called me in Mrs. Dean’s first grade class when I showed up wearing my new specs.
I am pretty sure he got a paddling for making fun of me though. Back then, a paddling wasn’t viewed as child abuse, but rather a parent-approved way to show a kid the error of his/her ways. Paddling may or may not have been super effective though since I got paddled a few times that year for excessive talking in class. Either way, Mrs. Dean was definitely not stingy with that ping pong paddle.
That was actually the only instance that I remember going to the eye doctor as a child. I guess when you are poor, being visually impaired ranks below other important things like eating and heat. At some point I just stopped wearing those blue glasses all together.
I really didn’t think much about my vision again until my forties. This is usually where things start going downhill anyway. I noticed that I was having a hard time reading small print. Evidently, my slight astigmatism and nearsightedness wasn’t a huge issue. But not being able to pick a burrito on the Mexican menu, THAT was a problem.
If you haven’t already read my earlier post about having to keep a pair of readers in every room of the house, now is your chance. My reader dependency ultimately became too inconvenient. I decided to make an appointment for an eye exam.
I guess the term multifocals shouldn’t have come as a big surprise at age 46. As a kid, my grandmother wore bifocals. Today, they call them multifocals, or progressives, and have actually removed the visible line in the lens, so no one but you has to know that you are wearing senior citizen glasses.
This time picking my frames was way more involved than back in 1979. I tried on about twenty pairs, all different shapes, sizes and colors. I settled on the bright, red ones. Because I felt they best matched my personality.
Which is somewhere along the lines of: Hey everyone! Look at me! Look at me! (Possibly why I seek constant affirmation with this blog.) (Just LOVE me!)
My how things change in forty years.
At first the glasses took some getting used to. Looking straight ahead, things far away, now looked sharper and clearer. Looking down, small print actually looks like letters again, instead of Egyptian hieroglyphics. It is the invisible line in between where things get a little hairy.
At first you may feel like you are drunk. And not in the, I threw back a couple glasses of wine with my girlfriends way, but rather the, I better sit down before I vomit, kinda way. The worse your vision, the harder it probably is to adjust. Just keep wearing them. Eventually, it gets better.
The problem now is that I actually see too well. I see everything. Standing in front of the mirror every line, pore, and age spot becomes Ultra HD quality. After a few moments of mindful inspection, my self esteem is shaky at best.
Actually, looking at my skin is the least of my problems. Once I took the focus off of my flaws and looked at the world around me, THAT is where things really became alarming.
My unhealthy need for order is well documented on this blog. If you had no idea, you can check out this post about an earlier episode. All I need is everything in place, at every moment. Oh, and I have a family of six. No biggie.
When I look down at the hardwood floor now I feel like I have entered an alternate universe. A universe where food crumbs are all the size of marbles. I had been living in a visually impaired world for years and now all I want is to go back there.
Sometimes aging sucks, as much as you tell yourself that you got this, life always manages to slap you into reality. But yes, it definitely beats the alternative of not being here on this planet.
Also, my glasses ARE super cute. I no longer have a problem adding a tip to meal receipts because I no longer have to act like I’ve forgotten how to do simple math, all in an effort to conceal my failing sight.
Just please forgive me when we meet on the street if I appear to stare a little longer than the socially acceptable norm. No, I was not just counting your facial pores.