“Congratulations, you’re in the top 1%!”
I just stood there. “Wow,” I said. I continued to just stand there; not because I was reveling in my top 1%-ness but because I had just taken out my contacts and this always places me in a very vulnerable state. “Yep,” he went on, “the top 1% of bad eyesight.”
“Great,’ I replied as I fumbled to feel my way to the ‘eye doctor chair’ so he could place all sorts of devices in front of my fabulously flawed eyes.
Modesty aside, my eyes have always been one of my best features. They are blue and have been described as: startling blue, the clearest blue I have ever seen blue, breathtakingly blue, like falling into the ocean blue, the bluest I’ve ever seen blue. Yes, I have beautiful eyes.
And they don’t work very well. They are extolled by others as being beautiful and yet they are my least effective part. It’s nice that the eyes are the windows to the soul but for me there was no view. They’re a one way mirror…you can see in but I can’t see out.
When I was about 7 it became clear to my mother that the eyesight issue needed to be addressed. Cut to the wing-tipped cat glasses with the lenses so thick I looked like an astonished bug. That was not a pleasurable period in my life. Jokes abounded but I kept my head up, happy to be able to see where I was going.
Ultimately, I got contact lenses and the cat glasses were replaced by cooler frames (still with equally thick lenses). But the fact remained that when the lenses came out or the glasses came off, I was still unable to perceive objects until they were basically too close to avoid. Because of this, the world around me has always had a large helping of soft-focus.
On the plus side, as I’ve gotten older this has worked in my favor. As the lines around my eyes begin to appear and the skin on my jawline starts to sag, I’ve still got the soft focus lens (my eyes) on. I can pretend all I want that I don’t have those lines or that sagging skin because my eyes are my own personal photoshop app.
But that’s about to change. I need to have laser surgery to correct my vision. And, when that’s complete, my world will be in focus. I will no longer wake up in the fugue state that has been my norm. My world will have edges. It will be defined from morning till night.
I have some mixed feelings and anxiety about this. My eyesight has allowed me to not see myself clearly and I’m wondering if this isn’t just pure metaphor. Not seeing clearly? Avoiding who I really am? Trying to emulate some kind of beauty ideal and being unable to see the beauty that is me? I think I have liked experiencing my face as a photoshopped version. Now I will see myself differently…literally and perhaps figuratively.
And, hopefully, I will be able to finally break that one way mirror and make it work both ways.
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