Jumped on the bandwagon. I ordered five pairs of Warby Parker frames to try on and I’m excited to see if I like them.
This was all precipitated by my being forced the past few days to wear my old glasses frames, which—if I’m being honest—I don’t wear enough. My name is Jaclyn and I am contact lens addict. Glasses are what I wear to get from the bathroom into bed without walking into a wall.
I have horrible eyesight. Everyone says that, I know, but my eyes are truly a study in how sucky my life would have been 400 years ago. Without glasses or contacts, the world is a blur of color. If I hold something right in front of my nose, I can see detail. Otherwise, it’s what I imagine everything might look like on a strong hallucinogenic. Swirling colors, blurred shapes, distorted lines.
I remember my first pair of glasses vividly. I was in second grade. The first clue that I might need vision correction was when my teacher told my parents that I had started squinting at the chalkboard. My parents saw that I was squinting to see the TV at home and would scoot closer to the screen. I don’t remember either of these things, but I do remember PE. I remember a ball flying at my head during a game of dodgeball that I didn’t even see. (It hurt.) I remember softball and stepping up to bat, swinging and hitting the ball (a miracle) and then realizing I couldn’t see how far it had gone. (“Why are you running? You’re already out at first!”) Listen—I was not particularly coordinated as a youngster anyway. My growth spurts were epic. I had to stay home occasionally from the growing pains. All the excess limbs flying everywhere made for some ridiculous little vignettes that are funny now but weren’t so much at the time. One of the worst was my tendency to just fall. This was during the worst growth spurt of all—the one where I grew 7 inches in one year. My legs would just buckle underneath me and I’d faceplant. It usually happened after I’d just woken up. I’d be walking out to the kitchen in the morning to eat my 4 bowls of Rice Krispies (“You better be eating something healthy first, Jaclyn!”) and then—BAM. Carpet, meet my face. Face, say hi to the carpet.
I digress. So, after repeatedly getting flogged in the face with dodgeballs I couldn’t see coming, we headed off to the eye doctor. I was excited. Second grade is about the time when glasses are still cool and I would be one of the blessed few with nifty eye accessories. I failed the eye exam with flying colors. To this day, I laugh when they ask me to read the letters without my glasses on or contacts in. They’ll put it at the largest size and I’ll say, “I really can’t see that.” The doctor sighs and says, “Just do your best.” That’s when I make up letters. “F-U-C-K-Y-O-” No, I’m kidding. More like: “R-T-J-O-E—-” and the doctor interrupts when he realizes I’m just humoring him. A little later, my viciously efficient memory would prove useful when I realized that I didn’t want my eyesight to be getting any worse. I’d sneak a peek at the letters before the world went blurry and would relay the correct ones even at their smallest size and confuse everyone. So, they’d change it up on me and then I was screwed. Good effort.
My first pair of glasses was a revelation. I remember walking outside and looking at the grass and saying, “INDIVIDUAL BLADES OF GRASS!” I could see leaves on the trees. You’re telling me the world isn’t just a blur of green?! NATURE!
After the initial glasses high wore off, I started realizing there were significant disadvantages to certain activities that required decent eyesight. Like swimming. My sister and I were enrolled in the local YMCA for swimming lessons. (I was a Minnow working on my Flying Fish certificate and Jera was Starfish or Polliwog.) I was very eager to earn the Flying Fish title, but after my eyesight started getting worse, there were real challenges presented that not even my exceptional athleticism (ahem) could curtail. For example, I couldn’t see for shit. My mother loves to relay the story of how all the Minnows were sitting on the edge of the pool at the deep end and the teacher (at the shallow end) instructed everyone to begin the long, slow swim to the other side. I didn’t hear the instructor over the din of Polliwogs frolicking nearby and everyone else but me jumped in and began flailing their way over. I just sat there, looking around, happy as a clam. My mom had to go the instructor after that and ask if he could make sure I heard him because I couldn’t see him that far away. He suggested prescription goggles, but at the time they were about $200 and my prescription changed every two-three months anyway, and my parents said no way. This is character-building.
A few years later, about the time I was a foot taller than every boy in the class, had just acquired a mouth full of braces and loved reading during recess, I begged my parents for contact lenses. At this point, my glasses were getting knocked off in basketball and I’d ask a friend to find them for me because although my acute hearing could hear them skitter across the concrete gym floor, I’d be damned if I’d start chasing after them with my nose three feet from the ground in the hopes that my fingertips found them before my foot did. We still played dodgeball that year and I was marginally better, but I didn’t exactly care and would stand there like a totem, waiting to get hit so I could sit in the “out” corner with my best friend and talk about boys and unicorns and Lisa Frank. There was a “no hitting above the waist” rule in dodgeball, but it was half-heartedly enforced and so one day I was treated to a dodgeball right smack in the middle of my face courtesy of some over-testosteroned middle schooler and I actually feared for a moment that it had shoved my glasses into my head. I cautiously pried them off my face and inspected the damage. A few adjustments to the nose pieces and they were passable for the rest of the day, but they were sitting sideways on my face and one of the legs was a cool two inches above my ear.
In the seventh grade, my parents and my eye doctor finally acquiesced to my plea for contact lenses. My mom warned me that they’d be hard to get in and that they might hurt for a while until I got used to them.
Unfortunately, she underestimated the determination of a junior high student with a damaged self-esteem and I worked for hours until I could get those suckers in and out of my eyes with flair. Sure, my eyes were tearing up and red from the exertion and my nose was running down my face, but THEY WERE IN AND WAS I PRETTY NOW?
From that moment on, the glasses were a relic. Banished to the hinterlands of the bathroom cabinet to be used only in emergencies or to find my way to my room at night. I hoarded my contacts like I’d never get another pair in my life and my mom lectured me constantly that yes, it was okay to throw them out at the end of the month. (I had a habit of “saving” the old ones in extra contact lens cases I had and stacking them dutifully JUST IN CASE.)
It’s a little remarkable to me that after all this, all those years of begging for contact lenses, that I find myself voluntarily ordering glasses. I know I need to do better about giving my eyes a break from the contacts, but old habits die hard and I’ll never get used to the way glasses remove some of my peripheral vision. I’m willing to try, though. I am. Blurry eyes, five frames, can’t lose.