Sunday, September 18, 2005

Midnight Ramblings

It's late & I just got back from sitting on the upstairs deck at Broadways with my friend J, talking about everything and nothing. That is the best deck in Asheville; it's amazing that nobody else is ever up there. You can watch the freaks on Lexington and the cars whiz by on 240 and there's even a small, strange, square tiki bar with a blackboard that says Frozen Concocktails $5.50 that you can sit under if it's raining.

J & I were talking about people with agendas. I said of a mutual acquaintance, "I don't trust her. I have never trusted her, and I don't know why."
J said, "You think she has an agenda."
"Yes," I said, "That's exactly it. She has an agenda and I have no idea why or what it is, but it makes me nervous."
"That's because you don't have one. I don't have one either, that's why we're friends."
It's true. I have nothing resembling an agenda in any area of my life (except for the to-do lists, I have those) and people who seem to have one make me wildly uncomfortable.
"so&so has an agenda."
"Yup." I said, "And that's why I've never liked her."
"so&so has one sometimes. . " J started
"Yeah," I said, "But he's so bad at it that it's transparent and adorable."

This ask metafilter question really got me thinking about the process of learning to read, and since in my mind that's linked with discovering how totally nearsighted I was, vision. I was a late reader, which concerned my parents, because the kindergarten IQ tests suggested that I was pretty bright. It never, apparently, occurred to anyone to test my vision. They sat me in the back of the first grade classroom, since I was one of the tallest kids. I was a quiet, shy kid who didn't ask questions and I don't think I knew that there was a blackboard up there or that there was anything on it. The teacher waved her arms around a lot, I knew that. But I'd never seen the blackboard. Kids think that whatever surrounds them is normal: how would they know any different? I didn't know I couldn't see - I thought that's the way the world looked. So finally, one day, somehow or other, they twigged to the fact that I really couldn't see, and I was taken out of school to go get glasses, my first pair.

It was amazing. And at the same time it was terribly, terribly disappointing. To this day, without glasses my world is full of auras and nimbuses: everything is blurry and surrounded by its own special fuzzy light filled aura. Things in the distance blend together, colors merge, everything glows a little. It was perfectly simple for me as a child to believe in every fairy tale, because a tree more than a couple yards away was a humming, glowing blur of possibility. Of course there could be fairies floating around in the branches, why not? They were at least as probable as squirrels and I sure as hell wouldn't be able to tell the difference unless they were pretty close. I thought that when I got glasses I would finally see them clearly, but instead they disappeared.

I used to lose my glasses a lot, and I used to take them off to ride my bike, which I knew was dangerous, but it was just too beautiful and I couldn't resist. Movement was like rushing through wet paint, everything blending together. The tradeoff, I guess, was that I learned to read the week after I got my glasses - it was amazingly easy then - but I miss the confidence I had in my blurry world. Now I'm afraid of it, I keep my contacts in all the time, my glasses by the bed so I can see when I wake up, and I'm a little frightened by the nimbuses. It's still beautiful though - streetlights look like chrysanthemums, the horizon is a thick mix of color. Sometimes I wonder which of these two worlds that I see is the true one.

No comments: