24 March 2017


"I love your glasses!" people keep saying to me, and I say, "Yeah, I like how they look, but I can't see through them at all." 

I started wearing them the day after we got back from Mexico. I made up my mind that the day we got back from Mexico would be the last day I wore contacts, and so when I took out my contacts after flying all day, I put the case in the cupboard in the bathroom and put my glasses case on the nightstand.

I have worn contacts for 21 years. 

I have worn them in the muck of a South Sudan rainy season, when I had to put them in before I could crawl out of my mosquito net, because I had to be able to see if there was a poisonous spider or snake in my gum boots. 

I have worn them in the dust of the desert in State of Happiness, where I had fine granules of blown-dry clay on my hands that I couldn't get rid of, so I had to blink the grit off my eye before I could see clearly.

I have worn them through the fine blown dirt of roads in Rwanda and Liberia and Kenya and Tanzania and Honduras and Cambodia, always finding a bottle of water to clean off my dirty hands first thing in the morning. 

I have kept them warm in my pocket in a freezing tent, put them cold into my eyes at 3 am after 5 hours of sleep before climbing a mountain, washed my hands with sanitizer before rinsing in water. 

I have put them burning into my eye when the hydrogen peroxide solution wasn't fully dissolved. 

For 21 years, I wore contacts an average of 365 days a year. I never had an eye infection, so I occasionally tried a pair of glasses - I got a pair in 2006, and one in 2016 - and wore them for half a day, or even a day, and then went back to contacts. 

T. used to laugh, because for many years I always had a bottle of the same kind of multi-purpose solution, the one from the store in the Mitten. 

Meanwhile, for 20 years, eye doctors have told me that I would get used to my glasses if I would just wear them more. If I just kept trying, if I wore them for a day or two or three, my eyes would adjust. The prescription was right; I just wasn't patient enough. 

This is a blatant lie. I've been wearing glasses for almost four weeks (tomorrow will be Day 28), and I am not used to them. 

I'm better at wearing them. I've figured out how to keep them clean. I've figured out how to look right through the middle if I need to see something clearly. 

I haven't figured out how to keep them from hurting the back of my ears, no matter how they are adjusted.

My phone isn't a rectangle when I look down at it. 

I feel dizzy when I walk down stairs - I can't quite tell where the steps are. 

I have to leave extra space in traffic, because I can't tell how far away the car in front of me is. 

When I take off my glasses and put them back on, I still feel disoriented and unsteady, even four weeks in. By the end of the day, my eyes ache from trying to find a way to see clearly and my head hurts from trying to make sense of what comes into my eyes. 

This whole month feels like a dream, fuzzy around the edges, because I couldn't really see what was happening. 

I have a list in the back of my journal, a countdown. I'm crossing off days. There are five of them left. Five days of glasses. SaturdaySundayMondayTuesdayWednesday. And only two of them involve staring at a computer. 

So close.

Next Thursday, I'm getting lasik. 

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