The picture over there shows the frames that I currently wear. I’ll be picking up new frames and glasses in the next week, and a convo with a friend on FB got me thinking about glasses and my history with them.
I got my first pair of glasses when I was pretty young, maybe third grade. At the time, my best friends, Kathy & Jessica, had glasses. My parents had glasses. All the adults I liked wore glasses. Going to the eye doctor with my Mom was always fun. She’d get to pick out new glasses, and it was like she had a new face each time. And to my little child brain, that meant that you needed glasses to be cool, that somehow the simple act of having and wearing glasses would confer awesomeness upon you. Being a little kid, I didn’t know much about how getting glasses worked, but I started making inquiries, and apparently the key to it was complaining about headaches and not being able to see the board. I started my campaign along those lines, and sure enough, not long thereafter, I found myself in the eye doctor’s office.
He started running tests, and while I was determined to get glasses, I chickened out at the idea of faking my way through tests. Besides, I was even more of a desperate overachiever then than I am now, so the idea of intentionally flunking a test was just unthinkable. Of course I can read the bottom row! I can read the row below that if you want! My heart sank as I realized I probably wouldn’t need glasses after all. My Mom got her exam done next, and I sat patiently watching as the doctor ran similar tests on her. She ended up getting contacts that day for the first time, IIRC, and contacts were a really big and annoying thing back then. But, I do remember my mind being blown that anyone would want to *not* wear glasses! Yet, here she was talking to the kindly doctor about how she was willing to do all this extra work to not have to wear glasses. Meanwhile, while she was learning about contacts, I got permission to go look at the frames. I woefully tried on pairs in the kids’ section and was near tears when I found one pair with the Smurfs logo on them, with Smurf blue thin metal rims, that I loved and wouldn’t be able to have.
Then, the eye doctor finished with my Mom and cheerfully asked if I had found frames I liked. I glumly said I had. He mistook the reason for my sadness. “Oh, don’t worry. All the coolest kids wear glasses.” I raised my eyes with hope. What had happened? I had passed all the tests! He had said “great job” each time, so I knew I did! And yet…now he was telling my Mom about the glasses I’d need and asking her about options. I was getting glasses! I dashed over to the Smurfs pair and clutched them. I didn’t realize I wouldn’t be taking them home that day, so that was a whole separate process of having to convince me I couldn’t just have the ones on the shelf. (It was very confusing. Isn’t that how buying stuff works?) But, the whole time, I was convinced that the eye doctor and I were having a conspiracy, that he’d realized I wanted them so badly that he was making it so I could have them.
A week or two later, I came home from school and my Mom told me that my glasses were ready. I don’t remember being fitted for them. (They may have just been sent home for me with my Mom?) I do remember putting them on, and standing outside our apartment with my Mom and Dad. My Dad asked me if it felt different. I looked at the trees off in the distance, and it was different. I could see the edges of branches and leaves. I could tell branches apart even from where we were. Before, everything just kind of faded into a blur, and I thought that was normal, how everyone saw things. After all, if you look at art or photos, that’s how people draw things. There’s less detail farther away. But suddenly, I had a super power of being able to see tall trees clearly! It was amazing!
For years afterward, I remained convinced that I didn’t really *need* glasses. After all, I could read just fine without them. It was just that the doctor was nice to me that day. 🙂 Later on, after I realized that they are in fact annoying and get in the way, I tried really hard to actually pass the eye test, and, of course, I still needed glasses. As it happens, even if I wanted to wear contacts, I couldn’t. I have astigmatism, which means the contacts are larger and less flexible because they can’t spin on your eye (the region that I look through has to be precise), and I have tiny eye openings and long eyelashes which means putting in any contacts, much less larger contacts, is just incredibly difficult. But really, I still love my glasses. They’re an accessory that I get to wear all the time. It is annoying to have to keep up with them, to not be able to just wake up and see, or lay in bed and watch TV without them. They fog up when I go skiing, and before I bought a specifically lightweight pair for running, they were very annoying then, too. But picking out new glasses frames is always a wonderful event, and I can’t imagine not getting to do it periodically. I’m super excited for my next pair. I’ll post pictures when I have them, of course.