I got my first pair of glasses when I was ten. They were sturdy things; big, oval brushed nickel frames with what must have been plate glass lenses, which perched on the bridge of my nose like a clumsy industrial songbird.
I’d always had a little trouble seeing the chalkboard in school, but for a long time no one ever mentioned that this was unusual, and it wasn’t bad enough that I ever had to mention it. It wasn’t until the fourth grade, when we moved from my old private school in Hillsboro to the public Geggie Elementary in Eureka, that anyone noticed something was wrong.
Most schools these days do periodic screenings for things like vision, hearing, and scoliosis, and I remember having them done a few times, but I guess Good Shepherd didn’t do them, or if they did, they missed it. Whatever the reason, the first screening I had at Geggie revealed that I was, as my husband calls it, “Blind as a butt.” (Or, in layman’s terms, very nearsighted).
So my parents scheduled my first eye exam. I honestly don’t remember much about the exam itself; it was probably much the same as they are today. It’s very similar to the screenings, which most people have done, and if not, anyone who knows how to operate a television has probably seen it before.
What I remember was the sensation, a week later, when all of a sudden I could see. I mean, I could really see.
I could read the street signs we passed on the way home. I could see the wings of the birds overhead, the colored patterns of their feathers. I could see people picking their noses in the other cars, and every furry, bloodstained squirrel, skunk or opossum on the side of the road.
But the thing that fascinated me most was the leaves. I could see their individual shapes, their edges, as clear as if I were holding them in the palm of my hand. On every tree we passed, I could actually see the leaves fluttering in the breeze, delicate and sharp, like a thousand razor-winged butterflies.
When I think of that moment, the way such a small thing could so completely change my perspective, I really miss being a kid. To a kid, every discovery, every person, place, or thing they see, every experience, is new, and amazing, and exciting. Olivia flails her little arms and smiles every time someone walks into the room, every time she finds a new toy. I think if everyone could get that excited about the little things in life, we'd all be better off.
Anyway, I've never been a very vocal, communicative person; most of the time, I feel like there’s no point in talking unless I have something important to say; for example, “Your hair is on fire,” or “Your outfit makes you look like a hobo clown hooker.”
But I remember the day I got my glasses babbling to my parents about all the things I could see, because for so long, I’d lived my life in a featureless haze of color and motion. But on that day I broke through the fog, and the view was spectacular.