Clearly, I’ve not felt a strong obligation to this blog since touching back down in the States. Why? There are no acceptable mosaics here. My well of inspiration is dry as a bone.
Just kidding. I haven’t been writing as often as usual because I am in the throes of the busiest summer of my life – working, coffeehouse-hopping, reading, sunbathing (and lying to my doctor about it), sleeping, not sleeping, busing, catching up with friends, wearing baseball caps, honing my skills as a cocktail artiste. I’ve checked out a lot of short story and essay collections from the library. I’ve consumed a near-unbelievable number of iced lattes. Life has been excellent. But I did not come here to write an extensive life update. No, today I am going to talk about glasses.
I was eleven when my poor mother dragged me, an obstinate, fuming moper of a punk, to the eye doctor. We’d recently been to the opera, where I had been unable to read the English subtitles above the stage, and suddenly I was sitting in an uncomfortable chair at Walmart and they were shooting air into my eye. That day, to literally no one’s surprise, it was decided: I needed glasses. I picked a pair of small, chestnut brown frames, and then my mom bought me the new DisneyMania CD because I was upset and she’s always been too nice to me. That Disney optimism, though, did not chase away the fear that I would be labeled as a “nerd.”
That first pair of glasses brought a lot of new things into my life. First, the outlines of leaves, which had previously been indistinguishable clumps of green adorning the trees in my yard. Second, a new facial expression which involved squinching up my nose because my frames would slide down it and I was too lazy to lift a finger. Third, the beginning of an era in which my eyes are almost-closed in every picture because, as I said, my glasses often slid down my nose. As a result, subsequent pairs were very poorly documented: I effectively erased about six years of being visually impaired from the history books (my history books) by refusing to wear glasses in pictures. They would hang there, dangling from my hand, at my side. Nearly every group picture from the time I was twelve to the time I was seventeen was like this. Even in class, I would occasionally take them off if I didn’t really need to see the board. They helped me see – like, a lot – but I was embarrassed to wear them.
There was a brief period where I considered getting contacts (I was probably fourteen) – I went in to the eye doctor and they held up a giant, plastic model of a lens and placed a normal-sized tester on the tip of my finger, but I never actually put it in my eye because I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to get it out again. Irrational fear: I’m good at that. So contact lenses were, unequivocally, a “no.”
I went through three pairs of very unexciting black frames before I finally landed on the 2011 “nerd” standard – thick, black, square, with little silver things on the corners. This was when I started liking myself as a glasses-wearer. I wore them all the time, even in pictures, even to school dances, and I owned it. I don’t know why it took so long to happen, but my glasses became a part of who I was. As I would later claim (and still do claim), they became a part of my face, an extra feature. Fast-forward four years and two pairs of frames, and I don’t like taking my glasses off. I also get really offended when people think they’re fake… but that’s another story for another day.
In February, I branched out from my usual type (read: square black acetate) and ordered some chunky tortoiseshells from Warby Parker. I’ve never loved an accessory – or a necessity, for that matter – more than I love my Kimballs.
And now I’m looking at getting a second pair from my beloved WP. Even though I am not one of the fortunate few who looks good in any and all frames thrown on my face, ordering the home trial boxes is slightly addictive – usually 3/5 are losers, but that leaves two winners. What is more fun than trying on glasses? I guess Disneyland is. Beside the point. Back to corrective eyewear.
In my most recent 5-day home trial, I’ve narrowed it down to two pairs: the Haskell and the Fillmore. I am strongly leaning toward one of them, I won’t say which, but feel free to cast your vote. Just for fun. I say that because I probably won’t listen to any of you because I am an incredibly stubborn young woman. Sorry.
In short, I am really, really happy I need glasses. They’re a pain in the ass when it rains, and they steam up when I open the dishwasher, and sunglasses are an expensive challenge. But I love the way they look, and I love that they let me see how I look – pretty useful. As an 11-year-old, I was worried my glasses would make people judge me. Now, if they warrant any label, I’d like to think that label is “bold.” Also, let me just say I completely misconstrued the concept of “nerd” as a child, and would not feel any shame whatsoever to hold that label as well – it’s just that my nerdiness and my glasses have nothing to do with one another.
And that is my corrective lens coming-of-age story. EMBRACE YOUR FLAWS!