On Friday night, my glasses fell apart in my hands. I didn’t do anything to them, only took them off, and the left lens clattered into the sink. No biggie, I figured, and kept calm as I retrieved the lens. The screw had been loose for some time, so likely enough I hadn’t remembered to tighten it that day. All I’d have to do would be stick the lens back in, maybe find the screw if it had also fallen out, use my thumbnail as an impromptu screwdriver, and I’d be back in business. Easy. Only, that’s not how it went.
The screw was perfectly fine, but the left arm of the frame dangled at an odd angle, the frame itself having snapped. Well. This was a pickle. No, I did not have a backup pair, and no, I did not have contacts. My Saturday was already booked full; CRRWA meeting in the morning, Tulip Festival date with Real Life Romance hero, to begin the second I got back from the meeting, and then an online viewing party for a favorite TV show with friends who are similarly inclined. None of this was going to be easy when all I could see were blurry blobs of color.
Even so, I tried, because I am me. I have two friends in the medical field who are super sure I actually broke my right foot during Caregiveapalooza, and, since there was no time to get myself checked out, I bound my own foot and hobbled around as best I could. So, I would do the same thing here. I first tried using a binder clip to keep the lens in the broken frame, which was serviceable enough for an hour or two, but uncomfortable. Next attempt was electrical tape, which technically kept the lens in the frame, but also wreaked havoc with my peripheral vision and depth perception. Also, the corners of electrical tape, when poking one in the eye socket and/or cheekbone, provide a feeling I am going to describe as discomfort, but I was not going to miss that meeting. (Heather McGovern spoke on using character and conflict to heighten the black moment, and I am all about the black moments.)
Twice, at the meeting, I jumped in surprise when friends approached me from the left. I did not see them there. Clearly, this was not going to be a workable solution, but I took notes as best I could and will compare them with a friend’s later, to catch anything I missed. Friend was able to drop me in front of my house, despite the festival traffic, and, after short pit stop, I informed Real Life Romance Hero he was going to be my guide for the afternoon; we were going to be holding hands the entire time, and not just to show affection. He told me he’d been planning on doing exactly that. Good man.
If you’ve never attended an outdoor festival sans corrective lenses, let me give you an overview. There will be a lot of shapes and colors coming at you from all directions, and you will not be able to tell what they are. Assume they are people, and none of them know you can’t see a thing beyond blobs. There will be a small twinge of apprehension, because, if you let go of the hand you’re holding, you are likely going to be toast. After a while, you’ll start to get a feel for what it’s like; you’ve traversed this ground before, under different circumstances, so maybe you’ll be only lightly toasted, not actual toast, if your guide parks you someplace somewhat out of the way-ish, to get a couple of the best hot dogs on earth. You learn to ask questions when needed. Are there condiments? (this is always an important question) What about napkins? Is that a dog? (most of the time it was a dog; once it was a small child. Real Life Romance Hero thought that was vastly amusing.)Since I can see only blobs, will someone else please take a picture? Things like that. Food still tastes good, company still good, and questions posed to festival staff will help point you in the right direction when you suspect a favorite vendor may be present, but cannot see them because blobs of color and all that. A few modifications, but you still come home with a purse full of kettle corn and a tower of horseradish samplers, so still good.
If you’re suspecting I’m going to turn this into some allegory on writing, you’re right. Housemate and I spent the entirety of Sunday at the optometrist. The utter destruction of my former spectacles garnered some interesting comments from the staff, who were sympathetic and understanding of the entire affair. They even worked out a small discount and pushed to get me lenses that day, rather than let me swim through the fog any longer than I absolutely had to, so, overall, a positive experience there. There is the matter of something the optometrist found and would like to keep an eye (pun intended) on and discuss later, but that’s another story.
What this story is about is clarity of vision. BFF and I took a lunch break, then as soon as she steered be back into the room, I heard a chipper “They’re ready! We did it!” BFF steered me to the appropriate seat, and the person who first greeted my foggy-eyed self rushed over to see the end result. Staff member handed me my new frames, I put them on and there it was. Sight. That’s what the world looks like. Relief. Adjustment, because my brain had started to figure out how to maneuver around the blobs of color, but having the right outlook makes it all that much easier to go about my life.
It’s like that with writing, as well. The colored blobs of uncorrected vision can be like all the vague ideas that come at a writer in the early stages of a new project. Who’s that? What’s that doing there? Where are we going in this strange new land? Are there condiments? Genre can be a guide. I write romance. I know where this is going. My lovers are going to get through all obstacles, to go home together, and happy to be there. I’ve been this way before. I’ve written romance novels. I read them. I know where this is going, and I know I’m going to get there, so I can trust myself and my guide and enjoy the experience. Not too bad a lesson to learn (relearn?) when I’m pumped from conference, meeting, and have a new-to-me desktop on the way. Think somebody is trying to tell me something here?