I got my first pair of glasses when I was eleven. I was excited, hoping they would make me look prettier. I still remember walking along the road between my house and my best friend’s house and telling her my news. Her response soon tampered my excitement; she couldn’t see why anyone would want glasses.
A few weeks later, I got my new glasses. I remember walking toward the door of the store, watching as the grey carpet floor seemed to tilt and move in front of my new eyes. In the van, my eyes continued to adjust. Then, as we hit that spot in the road where I’d told my best friend about my eye exam, something caught my attention. “Mom! The trees have leaves!”
That experience isn’t unique to me. Recently, as I read an essay in In the Flesh for my nonfiction class, I laughed out loud at Trevor Cole’s memory of his first eyeglasses:
“The drive home from the optometrist’s that day stands out as one of the most magical in my life because as I stared out the window, I saw for the first time that the trees rushing by along the side of the road weren’t just big blobs of green. They world was suddenly a place of exquisite detail. ‘I can see all the leaves!’ I exclaimed.”
Around the same time I got my glasses, so did my friend Angie. Our prescriptions were similar and we ended up with almost identical frames. This came in handy later that year when we hiked the Ram Range together with our families. After a long day in which we’d gotten lost several times, been carried by our dads across a waist-deep, flooded river, and then set up a quick camp at dusk, I discovered one of my lenses was missing. A search through our tent revealed no little glass circle. I spent the rest of the hike unable to appreciate any of the “exquisite detail” around me. If I stayed close to my friend, however, I could borrow her glasses whenever Mom said “Oh, look at that waterfall!” and pointed to the far-off blurry mountains.
My dad didn’t like to buy glasses very often, so I wore the same frames for several years (and still do). I only broke one pair. We were at my grandparents and I had put my glasses on the edge of the bed before doing something. Then I turned around and knelt on my glasses, breaking the arms off. I was terrified to tell my parents what I’d done, but they laughed and talked about putting glasses in a place where they won’t get broken.
Now that I’m married and have to buy my own glasses, I continue to look for cheap glasses. My husband likes shopping for glasses with me, saying he has to look at them more than I do. When I went to Seattle with my friend Joanna, I noticed that she had really nice glasses. The kind of cute, funky frames that I’d always admired but been afraid to buy, preferring to pick more “neutral” frames that would go with anything. When I complimented her, she said she’d found her glasses online. I quizzed her in detail about the process and a year later ordered glasses myself. Using the virtual online mirror, I tried on several pairs and finally picked a different style of frame than any I’d worn before (feeling brave because a large price tag wasn’t attached).