Visually Repaired

Not all of my Christmas gifts for Holli were ready by Christmas. It’s not entirely my fault; I had to make an awesome 2013 Christmas Card first. The final gift to arrive was a desktop calendar made up of photos from the past year of Holli, the kids, and myself. When it arrived, we gathered around as Ian announced every person in every photo. I stood, looking on with pride, holding Ainsley. Suddenly, she grew restless.

Automatically, I bent to set her down. Who am I to deny a young child the adventures of her fancy? In the process of being noble, however, I hadn’t noticed just how close I was to the furniture. I smashed my face into the back of Holli’s chair, bruising my nose, shattering my ego, and breaking my glasses.

We’ve all been there.

A pair of glasses, with tape holding one stem to the frame.
The damage.

At first, I didn’t realize my glasses had broken. I’ve had this pair for a long time, and compounded damage has left them looser than JOKE. Turning the eye-wear in my hands, I naturally assumed the stems were slightly more liberated.

Further inspection Thursday night made my options obvious: I’d need new frames. While I’m at it, I decided to get my eyes checked, too. Who knows? Maybe my eyes changed in the three years since my last exam. I came to these conclusions as I stuck packing tape to secure the stem against the rest of the frames.

There was literally tape on my glasses. I had become a NERD CLICHÉ.

I scheduled an appointment for Friday afternoon at the same place Holli had just gone to. “It’s by the Panera,” my wife had said, and Panera Bread is just a handful of blocks away from my workplace. “It’s by the new Panera,” my wife had actually said, and I spent ten minutes looking for an imaginary eye clinic.

After a quick scolding, I headed across town. Even given my geographical dalliance, I was still early. I browsed frames and disliked most of them. I listened with some interest to the whispered conversation between the employees but could only make out frustrated sighs and awkward pauses.

When it came time for my exam, I expected a quick, unexciting time of it.  First, the doctor handed me a portable eye patch to cover my right eye. With some squinting, I could read most of the bottom line of letters. ‘Nailed it,’ I thought, nodding in appreciation. Then she asked me to switch eyes.

“Just read from the smallest line you can make out,” she said.

After an eternity, I gave the only answer I could.

“I can’t read any of them,” I said, wilting in disappointment. Instead of three and a half fairly readable rows, I saw amorphous blobs unrecognizable as language. I blinked hard and rubbed my eyes but not even the largest of them came into any sort of focus.

After the litany of “Which is better? Number one? Or number two?”, the doctor summarized her findings. My left eye, she told me, was slightly near-sighted and pretty close to my prescription. My right eye was quite far-sighted and suffered astigmatism as well as being far worse than my prescribed correction. My new prescription would take some time getting used to, but she urged me to give it some time.

Pretty ominous, there, doc.

Then came what I thought would be the fun part: frames. I had decided to mix things up. For as long as I’ve had glasses, I’ve had brown, thin Ray Ban frames, with a tapered, rounded rectangle shape for the lenses. This accident afforded me freedom of choice. I could embrace a bold new look.

This what I ended up getting:

A pair of eye glasses.
My new glasses.

Oh, can’t tell a difference, dummy? That’s because they’re nearly the same pair. Apparently, I have a face that only one style of eyeglasses can love. Every other pair I tried received wincing frowns and careful compliments.

By Saturday, I had my new glasses. Even today, nearly a week later, I’m still adjusting. If I’m tired, or the light catches my lenses in a peculiar way, the world suddenly shifts perspective. Everything slants, dropping height as things stretch to my left. It’s like having vertigo for a moment, but it dissipates.

Despite this three-dimensional annoyance, I wear these glasses proudly because they reflect a bold step toward better vision. They are a metaphor for desiring change in yourself but finding you’re the best fit for you all along. They are a metaphor for the virtue of consistency and quality in the lives of those around you.

And they might also be a metaphor for having oblivious friends, because no one has told me they like the new specs. My eyes are up here, guys. And they’re cryin’.