I’ve had a love affair with my eyewear for half a century. I say “eyewear” because it is the term that aficionados and retailers use. Henry calls them glasses. But then again, although he has occasional brilliant moments, he’s nonetheless provincial. After all, he’s a puss.
The optometrist first prescribed glasses when I was in Sr Jane Raphael’s fourth grade class in Chapel Hill. Squinting never really phased me but it must’ve frustrated her and Margy. Three days later my mother brought me home with my new black glasses, the type one sees on a typical elementary schoolboy.
As I got older I became increasingly focused on my glasses. By my mid-twenties, I was referring to them as “eyewear”. They became my constant accessory so that I could always justify the expense. Well, I wore them all the time.
Over the next thirty years, I have had titanium, tortoise shell, copper, and leather frames. Although I always felt poor otherwise, I justified an Armani, several Matsudo, a Jhane Barnes, Ralph Lauren, Joseph Abboud, and more Brooks Brothers pairs than I’d care to mention. Friends would laugh at my skill at rationalizing the cost.
Almost all of my spectacles have been round. Over time, my look went from collegiate Bolshevik to pre-requisite preppy and my favorite, bookish Southerner Bohemian. Today, my style is more of a robe, boxers, and eyewear.
Okay. Okay. That was true until this past February. My vision had been getting increasingly poor and inconsistent. Until the transplant, I’d just need to do without any depth perception and any periphery vision.
I retired my entire collection and locked them in a desk drawer. Hell, I couldn’t drive. My beloved and I are always home. There is never a need to: read a menu, follow a film screen, check a price tag, or read a street sign.
As for televison viewing here at Marklewood, I am usually on my iPad whenever episodes of Doctor Who, The Walking Dead, or Downton Abbey are airing.
At the very least these days, I literally have a completely different view of the world. It is no longer clear. In fact, what I actually see is a painterly landscape. My daily life is now appointed with images reminiscent of Renoir’s faces, Pissarro’s streets, and Van Gogh’s sunflowers.
I am growing to enjoy my newfound perspective, albeit temporarily. Hopefully, with a new and improved heart, my vision will return.
However, if it doesn’t, I’ll be okay with that. That is: except for driving. I miss both it and the implicit freedom. Actually (in a whisper), I used to be an obsessive motorist and resistent passenger. I absolutely had to do all of the driving.
This modern world is different. Words such as “absolute” “forever” and “eyewear” have slipped out of both my lifelong work-a-day and scholarly lexicons. Perhaps they’re obsolete.
I am also at last actually seeing. As I gaze out the Jeep’s window, the view is fresh and unfamiliar. Even after having driven on Lake Wheeler Road over 6,000 times, I now notice signs, houses, even cows for the first time.
Obsessions can diminish. The way I now see it, one must keep his eyes and heart open. Perhaps that would make a profound needlepoint pillow for the living room. Obsessions can diminish.
When and if my eyesight returns, I think I’d prefer to just call them glasses.
(Image: “High Wire” by Daniel Vogin.)