My new glasses came before I left on my trip. They were supposed to take two weeks but arrived in only two days. I drove to pick them up. I crept through slippery white, lights, holiday. Frames around glass. Coverings. Decoration that tells imagined stories we prefer to the dark, winter, (fill in your own blank to describe the) days.
When we close our eyes in the dark, we no longer see. When I open mine without glasses, what I see blurs. Frames provide focus, a prescribed one. I hadn’t planned on choosing new frames. I had eagerly traded in the pair of glasses I owned prior to the pair now broken. I knew the lens prescription had not changed much over these years since I had bought that pair after returning home. Somehow, I had believed I wouldn’t need to buy another pair of glasses. I wouldn’t need a different frame.
The glasses the new ones replaced were supposed to be a forever, at least in my mind. They replaced a beat-up pair that survived all three of my Guatemalan lives. I paid extra for the lovely shade of blue and painted flowers. An artistic flair. A promise to myself. A hope for next steps. When I bought that pair I had no insurance. They were expensive and they were a choice to value what I chose versus what I thought I should.
“I have to spend money on something I know I’m not going to love.” I repeated this to myself. “I’m lucky to have the money to spend.” I repeated this too.
What did this pairing of reminders say about the present that was buying my future frames?
Still, my body felt had heavy with each one I had selected and held to my face. My stomach was unsettled as if a larger choice faced me in the mirrors than colors and shapes around my eyes. The employee assisting me pulled several more that she believed matched my previous choice. Some were blue, but lighter. Some had a floral motif, but less natural.
It wasn’t as if I wore glasses often. They interrupted work outs. They fogged in winter. I chose to wear them at night, on weekends, during allergy season. Perhaps that said I already knew the person they were meant to frame was a controlled percentage of my life.
“They’re my author glasses,” I had said. And, they’ve broken. Had the dream? Had the promise been broken to myself.
These lenses were barely different, but the style of frame had most definitely changed.
“Did you find one?” she had asked, patiently.
I held out the weightless object in my hand. “These. My sister-in-law is my stylist.”
“The dark burgundy is nice.”
I looked at the one remaining on the table. It too was burgundy. Only burgundy. “Pink. Well, at least my niece will like them.” That thought at least made me smile.
I was sent home with my old glasses ‘wrapped’ to use in the meantime. Wrapped meant I could wear them, but not fold them up into their case.
“Would someone else use these?” I had also asked.
The saleswoman nodded, “Yes.”
“Really? Even like this?” I twisted the unbending frame around between us in the air.
“Hmm.” I wondered. Was that the way to continue to give those frames purpose?
In a hurry to fight winter, I thrust the white case into my bag. An attempting at moving quickly so as not to linger in what ifs, or a reminder I could only move forward. I gingerly balanced the exposed blue glasses home. I set them in the basket on my night table where they had always been in case I needed them during the night.
They rested there until I picked up the pink pair. I tugged the new case open. Its stiffness fought me. I lifted the new glasses out of the box and examined them. “Pink. I can’t believe I picked pink.”
I stared across the room at my bookshelf. I carried the glasses to the shelf above my writing archives and between other pieces of myself that had been and sometimes continued to be. The teacher bell. The Kung fu dragon. I flipped the frames upside down and set them on the shelf. Dust resettled. Their tone reached out to the colors in paintings on walls, bedspreads, and books. The frames matched. Reminded. Not an always, a forever kind of framing.
My niece now breathes next to me. Our eyes watch the same light drifting in from the balcony. The decoration in my brother’s apartment is always changing. My dad always said that painting a room was the easiest and cheapest home improvement. It was the kind that survived economic downturns and pandemics. Color. Tones. Shades. Not just a change in the color, but how we saw the color, how we heard the color.
My sister-in-law helped me choose. My niece reinforces the choice. And, it doesn’t matter how they see me, but how I see myself. I remembered a moment weeks ago in front of the showroom mirror. On the table, I focused on the color, pink. When the glasses were on my face, the inner shade of the frame seemed to light my face. That is why I chose them. It’s why I chose them over the less expensive pair that was monotone burgundy shade. Not self-labels. Not self-loathing. Not only future, but present.
In the New Year, I needed to focus on inner light. Dreams lit from inside, but not framed by me alone. These glasses would not be just new lenses with updated prescriptions. They could be a new frame, but importantly a shared frame.