Yesterday I went to the opticians for an eye test.
Nothing unusual about that, you may say, and hardly a suitable subject for a blog about Creativity. However, aside from the fact that every experience is fodder for a writer, I want to tell you what a literal eye-opener it was.
I should probably mention that it is about six years since I last had an eye test, never mind new glasses, since with my cruddy eyesight, the latter invariably involves coming up with a hefty three figure sum. Luckily, we’d put a bit aside over the winter, and I’ve finally got my chance, which is a good thing since my close sight (I wear varifocals) has got so bad that I seem to manage to slice, grate or peel my fingers every time I prepare a meal because I can’t see what I am doing.
I had also made the momentous decision to give in to Husband’s badgering, and go to his optician, instead of the cut-price outfit I attended before. You get what you pay for, and my scarcity thinking had ended up with me wearing a pair of specs for six years that were the wrong prescription to start out with. I don’t even want to think of the potential damage caused as a result, never mind the wrinkles from squinting!
My new optician was breath-takingly thorough and professional. When he touched my head, or slotted new lenses into the machine, I felt as soothed as a fractious baby. I relaxed into the the chair, something I had forgotten how to do in a clinical context, at rest in my trust in his skills.
And then he put in the final lens and removed the blank so that I could see out of both eyes with the new prescription. And that was when the magic happened.
I had forgotten the rush, the sheer, giddy thrill of being able to see the world in all it’s crisp, hard-edged glory:
R V S B
Clear as day!
I had forgotten. I had forgotten how one day, long ago, the school nurse had sent me home with a letter for my mother, saying that I needed spectacles. My mother cried (a wonder I had never seen before), mortified that she hadn’t noticed how dreadfully shortsighted I was. Even at seven, I was excellent at hiding it, of course. I hid my blindness as I hid so much else, not wanting to be a bother, wanting to be a good girl.
I shall never forget the day I was taken to collect my first pair of glasses – plastic, pale pink, National Health frames guaranteed to make you a target for bullies at school. They were monumentally ugly and unflattering, and they never sat straight on my nose because one of my ears is higher than the other (most people’s are, apparently) and they could never adjust them to get the angle right. I still have the same problem.
I didn’t care.
Because for the first time in my life, I could see.
I came out of that little shop, and saw road signs and shop fronts, chimneys, roof tiles and clouds, car number plates, birds, litter in the gutters, pebbles and cobbles, a myriad of enchanting details that were entirely new to me. It felt like a miracle.
Other kids at school moaned about having to wear specs when their turn came, or refused to, point blank, on grounds of vanity. Some even deliberately damaged theirs so they wouldn’t have to wear them. I never understood what they were on about. Spectacles were for me a liberation, a swipe of pure magic in my life, and I loved them.
And sitting in the opticians chair yesterday, looking at a row of illuminated capital letters through a contraption that Professor Brainstawm would have been proud of, I felt once more that giddy thrill of being able to see.
So I am resolved never to neglect my eyesight again. Not for perfectly sensible health reasons, of which there are many, and which I entirely subscribe to; not in recognition of my ‘lack of deserving’ habits which explained my recent years drought, nor even to avoid those pesky wrinkles. No, I shall make sure my prescription is always up to date in in future for the frivolous, delicious rush of childlike excitement, the giddly thrill of seeing.
May your eyesight always be sharp and clear,