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The curse of the gift of sight.   —   Health

For the past few years my eyesight has been getting progressively worse. Whereas wearing my eyeglasses used to be an occasional occurrence when I would go to the movies or watch the tube, lately they have been a permanent fixture on my face in order to see anything at all, and quite frankly I’m getting tired of looking in the mirror and seeing them on my face. But now it’s time for a new prescription. My current lenses have become too weak for my shitty eyesight but I’ve been too lazy and too broke to get a new exam, and unfortunately I've gotten used to my weak ass glasses, they do the job well enough and since I’ve never had a pair of glasses that were so good that they’ve given me the gift of sight in all wonderful detail, I don’t think I know what I’m missing. Sometimes I take Adam's glasses and look through them to marvel at the detail of the world around me. My world, as I see it, has a subtle haze that settles over everything like a layer of dust or cobweb, hiding the details and dimming the impact of sight.

Saturday Adam and I were running errands in the city. I had left my eyeglasses at home since it was a bright sunny day and I wanted my sunglasses instead. Sitting in a sushi restaurant for lunch I'm looking over Adam's shoulder at this huge sign in the back that is advertising the lunch specials. Of course I can't read it even though it's the size of a billboard, and I'm squinting and focusing and finally giving up and I settle on the menu that's sitting on our table. Adam sighs and asks, when will I finally go to the eye doctor to get a new prescription for lenses and finally get a prescription for contacts? I shrug and mumble something about being broke and having to save. But Adam loves fixing things and getting shit done so he offers to take care of the bill for the eye doctor and suggests that we go for an appointment when we get back to Brooklyn. I don't want to take him up on the offer because I could afford it in a few months, but I remember having said that months ago and still I am no closer at affording it than I was before. It seems that something always comes up and sucks my extra money right out of my bank like some evil money monster. So I nod my head and agree to go.

At the eye doctor I do the exam and get a new prescription and since it will be my first time wearing contacts they give me a crash test on how to put them in and take them out. Then they send me out the door with my shiny new prescription and my first time ever contact lenses. It's not until I step outside that I realize that I can see. Really and truly see. I'm standing on the corner of Manhattan Avenue and looking down my block towards the City. The skyscrapers are no longer just foggy looming images in the far distance. I can see the architecture, detailed and bright. In fact, the whole world basically changed from a 15 watt bulb to a 100 watt bulb. It's a little painful. The details of my surroundings flood my vision and over stimulate my brain. I can't focus on anything because there is just too much information to take in, too many colors, lights and movements. Within an hour I had a pounding headache.

The night came quickly and soon my familiar dark cloak surrounded me. My head slowly stopped pounding and once we started knocking back vodka tonics at a favorite Thai restaurant my head and my eyesight were in perfect harmony.

Later that night, after good weed, a couple of drinks, a lot of thai food and some lovin’, it's time to take the contact lenses out. I went into the bathroom and looked closely in the mirror and as my fingers slowly reached toward my eye I’m struck with the confusion of how not to use my fingernails. They are, after all, attached to the finger that I’m supposed to use to get the lenses out. They seem unusually long and pointy and in the way. Adam is over my shoulder trying to give me pointers on how to "just grab them", "you just have to pinch them", "just slide it over and just pinch it out", "you just have to ..." Okay, time for you to go now. I close the bathroom door and after minutes of poking and scratching at my eyeballs, slightly afraid in my intoxicated state that they would be staying in my eyes forever, I finally manage to somehow get them the fuck out of my eyes. I look in the mirror and the whites of my eyes are completely red and I see what a close resemblance I have taken to the red-eyed zombies in 28 Days Later. My eyes feel swollen and tight and I can barely keep them open.

It's Monday now and I've spent almost five hours wearing my contacts. I'm finding that the world is just too damn bright. Reading my book on the train, the words were just leaping off of the white pages and poking me in the head. Sitting at my computer in my office with a florescent light that is killing all that is good and righteous in the world, my eyes feel like they are being slowly blinded, like I’m staring into the sun. Is this how it's supposed to be? Will I ever get used to it or will it eventually drive me insane?

Because the insanity thing seems too close for comfort right now…

Posted 11.25.2003

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