Why are we competitive over our bad eyesight? People who are slightly nearsighted swap glasses, laughing, “Oh my god, I’m so blind!”
Those of us with more serious numbers turn a gimlet eye toward the amateurs. We’re a different club, and our humor is grim. “Nice coke bottles, Johnson. Seven? Eight?” We recognize the natural selection implications behind the plastic frames: teasing, problems playing group sports (anything with a ball is potentially traumatic) and a likely dose of self-hatred. Our lack of visual acuity is our cross to bear. (Mine is -8.50 in both eyes, if you think you’ve got me beat.)
And let’s not even start with bifocals, or progressives as they’re called now for us vain Gen-Xers. Going out to dinner post-40 means grabbing a candle from the next table just to read the menu. Did you increase the font on your phone?
For nearly two decades, I read newspapers, books, magazines, prescriptions and mail (everything) to James, a partially sighted man. I learned a lot about the complicated world of the visually impaired. There are levels of blindness, and those from opposite ends slag and gossip about each other. James never learned Braille or used a white cane. And although he would occasionally walk straight into a wall, it was a point of pride with him that a stranger couldn’t recognize him as sight-impaired.
(He was, in fact, wrong. His toupee was so outrageously mismatched to his hair that he gave himself away.)
James had vision, and it had nothing to do with his eyes. He had plans for himself and for me. We worked as a team for years, marking news stories, recording books and writing his memoir. It was a lovely labor, and I miss him dearly. He passed away last year. It is to him I dedicate this issue.
This week, as we embark on a new year, we contemplate our vision — how it identifies us, helps us see clearly, illuminates our goals and points to our truest selves.
- Stacy Morrison teaches the secret to being a creative visionary
- Rumnique Nannar reviews four books perfect for flirting with glasses
- Melissa Rayworth worries that her sons will turn out to be nearsighted nerds
- Kate Hanley remembers how having a baby made her lose sight of herself
- Erica Reitman relies on a psychic’s interspecies connection to speak to her beloved dog
See you later,
(Photo credit: Stocksy.com)