I started wearing glasses in seventh or eighth grade, though it really should have been much sooner. At St. Hugh of Lincoln Elementary, we had our eyes tested by the overworked Nurse McGrath, whose small office was on the echo-y, mostly empty third floor of the school. We would stand in line in the hallway waiting our turn to read the eye chart. It was a long wait, because our class had probably fifty kids in it, and so I had plenty of time to eavesdrop on the students in front of me and memorize the sequence of letters and numbers. By the time my turn came, Nurse McGrath, who resembled an agitated partridge, must have been too harried or weary to notice that I cheated.
I got away with this for awhile, but there came a point where even my mother, who with five kids didn’t pay much attention unless there was blood or screaming, must have noticed how fiercely I was squinting at the TV. My first pair of glasses were pinkish-beige-ish plastic, and while I loved seeing through them, I hated wearing them. I knew they made me look ugly (uglier). I took them off at every opportunity and was forever misplacing them.
I kept this up right through college. Everyone knew guys found glasses un-sexy and besides, they (the glasses, not the guys) made my nose sweat. I had been seeing (such a wonderful use of the word) Paul for weeks before he finally asked me, So what is with the glasses? When I confessed I hated how I looked in them, he was incredulous. He himself was so nearsighted he once wore his glasses water skiing (a sad story) and couldn’t believe I’d sacrifice vision for vanity.
Reader, I married him.
Now, in this first year of a new decade, in this last year of my sixties (gulp), and in the thick of my writing career, vision–literally and figuratively–means everything to me. And so I am hoping for a new year of keen and revelatory seeing.
I wish you the same. Happy new year!
(A quote on seeing from “The Story That Cannot Be Told” by J. Kasper Kramer, a beautiful middle grade novel published last year: “The truth is, sometimes it’s not just the world, but your eyes that have changed.”)