I know, I know. For all of you that know me, you just gasped a little bit and am wondering how I’m still alive. I made it…and with only one accident to report!
For those of you that don’t know me (or don’t know me well…), I have RIDICULOUSLY bad eyesight. You know how perfect vision is 20/20? Mine is 20/800 in my right eye and 20/700 in my left eye. This means that whatever object you can see clearly at 800 feet, I can’t see it unless I’m closer than 20 feet. With contacts (which I normally wear), my vision can be corrected to about 20/30.
To give you an idea of how blind I am, here is the thickness of my glasses:
When I was picking out frames last year, there were very few of them in the “clearance” category. I picked out one pair, but the sales lady said I couldn’t have them. “Why not?” I asked. Her reply? “Because they’d break your nose when we put your lenses in them.” So these were a bit sturdier, but the lenses still hang out of them by a good 1/4 inch.
I get asked a lot, “What can you see?” and I always answer with a description that it’s like looking at a Monet painting. You know how impressionist paintings are full of color, but there’s no definition? That’s what it’s like to have my eyes. There are beautiful bursts of color all around, but there is no line that tells me the difference of where a tree ends and the sky begins…they just sort of blend together. And there’s no detail to the individual leaves within the green top of the tree; it’s just a blur of green. My depth perception is also lacking.
So what made me decide to do this? Well, to put it bluntly, I was curious! I know that we live in a visual society (which is partly what kills our ability to sit still and listen to the long themes/forms of classical music), and I was curious to see how my life would be affected. I knew I wouldn’t be able to drive a car legally, so what would I do to fill my time?
It was, to sum it all up, rather lonely. I could only read a book when my nose literally touched the page. TV consisted of watching shapes of colors move across the screen. My mom was watching Dateline, and I ended up just staring at the ceiling, listening to the story instead of seeing it. My social media time was cut drastically because I had to sit with my laptop resting against my forehead to be able to see the screen.
I was still determined to try and do “normal” things. My best friend Chris’s birthday was on Saturday, and my present to him was to make a bunch of appetizers before we went out to dinner. My brother drove me to the store (since I legally couldn’t!) and watched me make an idiot out of myself at Super Stop and Shop. It was like shopping in a color store! I couldn’t see anything except big bursts of color. Our conversations went something like this: “Kiernan! Is this a tomato?!” … “No, a-hole! That’s a peach.” “Kiernan! Is this a bunch of endive?” …. “I don’t even know what endive looks like.” It was a long trip, to say the least.
Looking for endive, but staring at some other leafy green vegetable:
Attempting to check myself out (the lady behind me waited a few minutes before asking “You didn’t drive here…..right?!”)
I was able to make all of these appetizers, blind as a bat!
I only had one mishap, which was conking the CRAP out of my head on our glass shower doors. Here is my welt:
It still hurts and looks like I’m growing a second head out of my temple, but I’ll live!
This is one of the more interesting firsts I’ve ever done. It makes me contemplate the fact that I can sort of straddle two worlds — the seeing and the visually-impaired. It makes me so grateful that my eyes are able to be corrected. But it was also nice, for some period of time, to lay on the hammock and see bursts of color that not everyone is able to see–almost like a live Monet painting in action.
Would I do it again? Probably not for that long. But it might be nice to tune out for an hour every now and again and be colorfully wowed.
Other notable firsts:
* I had never discovered CUP HOLDERS in my car before!!!! WOW!!!
* I had never tried a Gooseneck brewery beer. I tried their 312 Urban Wheat beer. Tasty.
* I had never tried Sweet Frog (did I make that up?), the new frozen yogurt place in West Hartford. It felt like I was back at Yogurtland in Honolulu!
* I had never sat in an un-air-conditioned car for so long in 100 degree heat. I sat in traffic from the time I got off the Tappan Zee bridge until exit 55 off of I-95 last Friday. I was a pile of human sweat by the time I pulled in. UGH!!