It started happening the moment I turned 40 – I’d either move my arm a little further away or tilt my head back slightly to see the text in a book or on my phone a little more clearly. No big deal, just a slight adjustment. No squinting required. Maybe it was just some dust in my eyes.
Then some months went by, and I was stretching my arms further still, and squinting at things up close became instinctual. The people closest to me started to notice. The Acoustic Trio was on a tour that year, and Davy gave me a pair of his 1.25+ readers, with a soft case and everything! I put them in the glovebox and thought Phooey.
More months of squinting and arm stretching went by, and I moved those gift glasses from the glovebox to my nightstand – and I did occasionally use them at night when I was reading and thought, Wow, these do help.
My close-up vision continued to worsen. My arms were truly not long enough at some point, and then there was another feature added to the landscape – never enough light! I found myself increasing the brightness on every screen, and turning both my body and the small print on a label or in a book towards the nearest available window.
Sometime in 2019, I did a very grownup thing and bought a second pair of readers – still just 1.25+ – at Reny’s in Bridgton. I decided that these would be my go-to, keep-on-the-kitchen-table readers, for those rare occasions (haha) when I needed them.
COVID hit, and everyone was home all the time, and I was looking at screens and books a whole lot more. More ocular decline was noticed and measured.
And now, a few months past 46, I need these damned readers for everything – chopping vegetables, reading sheet music, balancing my checkbook, looking at any book or screen. I don’t leave the house without my favorite pair either safely tucked into my purse or perched atop my increasingly gray head.
Just this past week, I admitted something out loud to Shawn: ‘I think I need to consider a pair of 1.5s.’ We both laughed.
It should be no surprise to anyone, especially me, that this is happening. I watched my parents go through these very same motions at roughly the same ages. Dad even got prescription bifocals in his 40s. Shitty eyes are in the bloodline, and I haven’t escaped nature.
Boy, did I hate this at first. I hated admitting that I am in a body that is, slowly but surely, falling apart. I didn’t want to have to rely on some pair of glasses to help me. I can see this, dammit, just give me enough time and I’ll squint long enough to give myself a migraine, but dammit I will read this 8 point font on this bottle of hot sauce with no help at all!
And then I remember – haven’t I always relied on so many for so much? For the glasses, for the food in my belly and in my pantry, for the clothes on my back and the roof over my head, for the technology that has allowed me to stay creative and keep contributing to life, for every single person, place, and thing I’ve ever come in contact with? For my very life?
And won’t I always be so reliant?
Can I honestly believe for a moment that my life and my fate and my very nature are not intertwined and interconnected with that of everyone and everything else?
The blinder I get, the more clearly I can see all of this.
I guess I better get to Reny’s soon for a pair of 1.5+. Maybe two pair.