I think I was 5 or so when my parents started to fuss at me for sitting too close to the television. Daddy would be trying to watch UK basketball, and my giant head would be right in the way. I didn’t make it into first grade before I started wearing coke-bottle glasses. Coupled with buck teeth and a mushroom haircut, I was a real looker.
Glamorous single-digit and adolescent years aside, terrible vision was something that was just a part of my life. I remember finally getting contacts (and a perm, God save me) in the sixth grade and feeling like a completely new person. Contacts were my life saver. I felt like there was one less really awkward thing about me…. I mean, I was still the “tall kid” in middle school (don’t believe me? I remember looking down on my childhood friend Stewart Priddy. He’s like 6’6″ now), I still had terrible teeth, braces, and all sorts of dental gear, but finally, people could see my eyes.
There’s a strange vulnerability that comes with not being able to see clearly, and my prescription was so severe that I couldn’t read a book that was a foot in front of my face. I remember, vividly, being in college and having this strange worry that if someone were to break in while I was asleep and the contacts were out, I’d never be able to identify them. If I were attacked in any way, there would be no chance of catching the person. It was a strange feeling.
In January of 2008, after many years of talking about it, I finally bit the bullet and had Lasik. I remember waking up after the sleeping pills had worn off, looking out our 7th floor apartment window in downtown Louisville, and seeing… everything. The cars on 65, the post-its and do-dads sitting on the desks at Louisville Water Company across Chestnut, leaves on trees. My vision was perfect. Better than perfect, prescriptionally speaking.
As the last 10 years moved on, I didn’t notice when I started having to squint at street signs, the guide on the TV. Finally, one day in the office, I noticed that when I looked up from my desk, I couldn’t remotely get my eyes to focus on my buddy Greg when he spoke to me from 20 feet or so away.
I knew that my vision reverting was a possibility, and I’m not so naive to think that our bodies don’t age and shift over the years… Ten years, I think, was a good run with perfect vision, and even now, with my new specs (Lucy from Warby Parker), I have the most minor of prescription lenses, and the luxury of going without through most of the time. Still, the first few days sporting these black frames had me feeling just as self-conscious and dorky as I felt so many years ago. After a week, that nervousness faded (perhaps because the teeth have been fixed and my hair has grown out), and I find myself loving the way I look. And the way I see.
** this post was not sponsored in any way. all thoughts and opinions are my own **
** photos by Kyle Lueken **