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Sunday, April 1, 2012


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. 


  1. Great post! I found out a few months ago that I have mild astigmatism, and I really didn't think anything was wrong with my eyes...until I put my glasses on! Now I don't like not wearing them because I notice the blurriness that I was so sure wasn't there before I saw everything clearly!

  2. When my sister got her first pair of glasses, she commented to my mother that she never realized before that rain fell in drops.

    M.J. Fifield
    My Pet Blog

  3. Oh, I remember this feeling! Got my first pair of glasses at age 10, too. But when I had lasik surgery a few years ago, I read every street sign out loud to my husband for months. Kids definitely live with a sense of wonder that I (and most adults) don't have, but the magic of sight never went away.

  4. OMG, that's exactly what my mom always said about when she got her first pair of glasses (no, I'm not comparing you to my mother, just her story). She was so enthralled by trees and their leaves, a fascination which persists.

    I too have an astigmatism that didn't crop up until much older. I was so against it, and then I got the glasses and I suddenly became a HiDef connoisseur.

  5. Stupid astigmatism! There were no vision checks in my school growing up and it wasn't
    until I was 14 and having lots of headaches that anyone bothered to check the vision. Surprise! You mean , really? you are supposed to be able to see what those black marks on the board are? Ha!

  6. I'm very near sighted here too. I didn't get my glasses until middle school and no one believed I really needed them. For some reason they thought I just wanted them. Nope definitely needed them. I could barely read the big E at the top of the chart! I love my glasses though :) It is amazing to finally see all of the details on everything!