Into every young life some tragedy must fall. Mine came years ago in
the form of a careless mistake. One night I accidentally tipped my
open contact lens case and watched as the saline drifted down the
drain in the bathroom sink, carrying the prized lenses with it. The
action suspended to the speed of a slow-motion movie. I realized that
I had not gotten rid of the used saline as I thought, but the lenses I
had worked so hard to procure as well. I had mounted a one-woman
campaign to persuade my parents to buy them and after months of
begging and pleading and offering to do anything–I had won.
In an instant they were gone.
Given the expense, I knew that they weren’t so easily replaced. After
the realization slashed at me, I fell on my knees as the gut wrenching
sound escaped my lips. The tears poured forth as I wailed for all I
had lost. I was a freshman in high school and wearing my glasses to
class was like a death sentence. If boys don’t make passes…, then
sometimes I felt like they made me invisible to everyone. But somehow
I made it through. High school has since become a fond memory,
creeping into my dreams from time to time. Looking back now, this
incident seems over dramatic, an Oscar- worthy performance. At the
time it was the end of the world…
Now here we are, decades later, I wear my glasses almost every day.
Seeing the flowers on the side of the frames makes me smile when I put
them on in the morning. And in a strange sort of symmetry, my son is
being fitted my contacts. I can only imagine how it will change his
appearance. I know it will make his life on stage, as a clown and an
actor, much easier. He won’t have to worry about losing them or being
careless; his contacts will be disposable. A technological advance
that’s cause for rejoicing. At least in our house.
I am suddenly reminded of the time when T was very small, but old
enough to face forward in his car seat. M and I were driving home
after the holiday festivities; I turned and saw T sitting happily in
behind us. For some reason I was struck by the thought of how
different he would look when he got older and finally had a mouthful
of teeth. It may not sound like much, but all these little changes add
up, making us look different in large and small ways. Yet when you
look at the big picture—getting an aerial view– we have so many
similarities. Specific traits handed down though family lines. An
inheritance of sorts. These are not my eyes, T has his father’s eyes,
and my father’s eyes. But they are also his eyes. They remind me of
lakes and slivers of beach glass and treasured holiday ornaments. That
special shade of piercing blue that suggests a bit of mischief and
merriment. The adult inside wanting to be noticed, the toddler self
occasionally peeking through. All there in a big jumble. We carry all
the versions of ourselves with us always. I think it’s true that eyes
are the wide open window to our innermost selves. Can you see that
Nice Beth. So much out of a single idea expanded and it was just the right length as well.
I see those things every day – the toddler – the adult. I hope they both always show up here and there.