Monday, September 17, 2007

Trees have leaves?

It was English class. Mrs. Green. She was writing notes on the board and I was writing notes to a friend because I was bored. (See what I did there? Clever, no?) I was probably asking dreadfully important questions, such as, "Do you think that maybe Greg likes me?" or "Have you ever taken Mr. Hottie McHotHot's math class?" or maybe even "What do you wanna do after school? I don't wanna go home cause MOM's gonna to be there." (Don't worry - I've grown to absolutely adore my mother.)

Actually, I was writing notes to a friend for an entirely different, much more secret reason. And I was so wrapped up in my teenage angst that I didn't notice Mrs. Green had finished writing on the chalkboard and was walking up and down the aisles. She got to my desk, noticed I wasn't writing down her thought-provoking questions about Animal Farm ("The farmyard represents human society. Discuss."), and raised a bushy, black eyebrow. In a quiet voice, she asked, "Nat, why aren't you writing down today's notes?"

Now, despite the odd transgression (like getting out of gym class by saying I had to go help the music teacher with a project and then just going and hanging out in the music room) (I was a bit of a music/drama geek, if you couldn't guess), I was a pretty good student. My marks were mostly in the 80s and 90s. I didn't cut class. I did my homework. I didn't like getting in trouble. So when faced with this question from Mrs. Green, my instinct was to tell the truth.

"I, um, can't see the board from back here. I usually just copy Lynn's notes after class."

"Oh. Okay."

And then she walked away. I thought that was the end of that, but the next day I got called down to the nurses office for an impromptu and amateur eye exam. When I could barely read any of the letters on any of the lines, the nurse called my mom and advised her that I desperately needed to go to the optometrist. Soon I was whisked away to the eye doctor who promptly and ominously declared, "Young lady. You. Need. Glasses." He told me that I may not have to wear them all the time but that I could use them for school when I needed to see the board.

I didn't want glasses. Geeks wore glasses. Grandmas wore glasses. Young women fumbling their way through high school hell, just trying to get by unnoticed, did NOT wear glasses if they knew what was best for them. Nevertheless, I went with my mom to pick out some frames and week or so later, we went and picked up my brand new specs.

I can't even describe the joy I felt when I put on that first pair of glasses, even if they were hideously large and ugly. I remember looking around and thinking, "Trees have leaves!" I walked around the neighbourhood that day just looking at everything, revelling in all the details. Cracks in wood fences, bark on tree trunks, the texture of bricks - I could see it all and it was beautiful.

I never went without glasses again. I didn't choose to only wear them at school, like Dr. Needham suggested. Seeing was too wonderful to dispose of. I get that same feeling of joy whenever I get my prescription renewed. Slowly but surely, my eyes degenerate over the course of months and years and then I give in, get my eyes checked, and get new lenses. And the first thing I notice each and every time is that, once again, trees have leaves.

Sorry for the slightly tedious subject matter of today's post but - can't you tell? - I just got new lenses! Here's a before and after picture for you.

(Sorry about the weird white space. I can't seem to get rid of it. But you can click on the picture to enlarge it and get the full, delicious effect.)

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