I’ve worn glasses since I lived in Kentucky, some odd 17 years ago. I remember the exact day I couldn’t read the board anymore. My teacher thought I was lying, thought I was being dramatic, wanting attention. I squinted until my tiny eyes were slits and I used to wear the same pair of matching sweats to school every day. I wasn’t able to see, to read, I got headaches when I tried. And when we finally got glasses, we got them from the discount bin at Wal-mart. Thirteen dollars and I wore them for two years, stretched the dollar and waited until I got headaches again and had to ask for new ones. My mom thought I was being dramatic, wanting attention. She misunderstood.
Every year for fifteen years I’ve gotten a new pair of glasses, trying to rediscover myself and see who I wanted to be. I stopped wearing glasses and switched to contacts when I started growing facial hair. I one time had a pair that were NASCAR brand. I got Raybans before I moved to Italy and then left them at a barista’s house that I was seeing for a week or two. Now, I wear glasses more for utility than anything else, when my eyes are tired, when I forgot to buy contact solution. When I want to appear smart and older and wise. It shows I’ve grown up, that I’m not dramatic, not wanting attention.
But the ritual is the same and my day revolved around my eyes. Tired eyes, weak eyes. I wake up and lay a hand on the nightstand, spider-crawling my fingers until I reach my frames. I put them on bleary eyes, scratch my stomach, leg, head and yawn. I put on an undershirt, thrown off at night because it restricted me, and trip over a dog, stumble to the kitchen. My eyes adjust to the dark, then to the warm amber glow of the light above the sink. I measure out the coffee grounds and pour the water, the formula is exact–never changing. It’s all robotic, it’s all ritual that I have grown to love. Cherishing in the efforts I’ve made to make this place my home. The glasses fog when I turn on the shower, and I sit on the shower floor to stay warm, still waking up. Eyes all the more blurry. I put contacts in, get ready. Put eye drops in when I’m working on a spreadsheet, then come home and take my contacts out. When I need to be sophisticated, when I need to relax and can sleep without redness. And with attentive care, I lay them back on the nightstand, open and waiting for me in the morning.
The ritual has always been the same. The ritual will probably never end. And like a magpie, I have been collecting bits of who I used to be through my ever-growing glasses collection. There are glasses that remind me that I used to drink tea, to seem intelligent. Glasses that are the color of a wallet my mother once had. Glasses my sister called me a fag in. Glasses I lost my virginity in. So many memories. The ritual has always been the same, but the glasses have all become markers to my life. I’m different each time I put a new pair on. And each morning, each bleary morning, I’d like to think I’m a different person, too.