A Thing of the Past
I was seven, and they were dark red wire with lenses curved slightly at the corners of my eyes. With the glass perpetually coated with dirt and fingerprints, I wonder how they ever actually helped me see at all. A year later, they were green. A dark metallic green, like tainted grass. I christened fifth grade with black angular frames to match my new school blazer. By the end of that year, though, my prescription had changed again and I was due for yet another pair. I guess I would have to call those my favorite. Blue, red, green, yellow—it was like someone had given me a paintbrush and let me run free with the multicolored frames.
“I love your glasses!” people would exclaim about the variegated arms, and I would agree. At first anyway, but after a while, I began feeling just the opposite. I remember when I was about five, the idea of my getting contacts was about the most absurd proposition possible. Well, maybe tied with getting my ears pierced.
“Why would I ever do that?” I would remark. “Who in their right mind would want to stick a slimy piece of plastic in their eye every day? Not me. Well, I apologize for turning on my kindergarten-self, but by sixth grade, contacts were what I wanted most in the world. It wasn’t like anyone was calling me four-eyes or anything, but my ears were pierced, and now the vibrant frames that had seemed so unique just seemed to hold me back.
It wasn’t just a cosmetic issue; glasses presented everyday problems for me. Have you ever tried to cram large lenses under lacrosse goggles? And what exactly are you supposed to do when you are drinking hot chocolate and all of a sudden the steam temporarily clouds your vision? Suddenly that slimy plastic seemed very appealing.
So I tried, at least once a month. I would go into the eye-glass store and try to stick the transparent disk into my eye while the assistant would literally hold my lids open. My attempts, however, were futile, and my instincts would always kick in and betray me, shutting off my eye to any intruders. It must have been a miracle, but somehow in that spring of seventh grade, I managed to get those little silicone circles into my eyes. I took them home with me that day like a child would a new puppy, and I practically threw my glasses away right then. Eventually, I no longer needed someone to prop my eyelids open, and soon I didn’t even blink when I just popped them in my eyes. My glasses were a thing of the past, and now I dreaded the days when I had to give my eyes a break and wear them again. I was no longer the five year old who cringed at the idea of contact lenses.
It was only recently, when I was cleaning out my closet, that I opened up an old shoe box and there they all were. The green ones, the black ones, and of course my first red pair, still in the case I used almost seven years ago. I remember myself, about four and a half feet tall, leaving the eyeglass store with this case in hand, relieved that there was nothing seriously wrong with me, and excited—glasses make you look older don’t they? I slipped the pair on and stared at myself in the mirror. It was blurry with both my contacts and my old glasses on, but I could still make out the crooked frames that hung over my ears. I felt the same pinch on the bridge of my nose that I had felt in third grade. They suddenly helped me see again, not literally as they had all those years ago, but by remembering all they had meant to me once.
Yes, I still have astigmatism, and if you catch me first thing in the morning, I might not be able to recognize who you are, but maybe my eyes haven’t betrayed me after all. Maybe my glasses aren’t so bad. I had become so ashamed of my glasses, but now I realize that they are just as much a part of me as my eyes themselves. Don’t get me wrong, I still want a Laser Eye Repair Surgery when I’m older, but until then I still love my rainbow frames, and I still have my glasses and my contacts to count on.