starter pair

Sometimes I think everything you'd need to know about my terribly flawed character you could learn from my eyeglasses.

When I was first diagnosed with astigmatism, I had a pair of my dad's drugstore readers refitted with my prescription. He kept them scattered around his house the same way he hoarded mechanical pencils - the same way I keep a tiny blue jar of Blistex handy in nearly every dresser, cabinet, and purse. At a certain age you get tired of looking for things.

Anyway, they were a temporary and sentimental fix. Cheap green plastic, one of the few personal items of his that I saved. After all, they literally let me see the world the way he did. And I resisted buying new frames that would suit me better because every time I put a pair on, I saw my mother in the mirror. Given the choice, I'd rather see my dad's past looking back at me than my own future.

When I finally gave in, it was Chanel that seduced me past my hangup. Rectangular, midnight blue acetate, tasteful twin Cs mounted on an inch of delicate leather quilting at the temple. They were so beautiful I didn't notice that they were essentially the same shape and style as my dad's pharmacy readers. Or that they made me look more like my mother than anything else I'd tried on. They were $300. They were, technically, my first pair. I consider myself a generous person towards others, but when it comes to something for me? Entitled doesn't even begin to cover it.

I still have them, remarkably. I've managed not to lose or break them yet. But because I am so goddamn lazy, they're almost always smudged to a comical degree. I'd be embarrassed to leave the house in them, yet I'll sit at my desk for hours on end, fully aware of the fingerprints through which I'm viewing my laptop screen, and never so much as wipe them on my shirt. Three hundred dollars. Starter pair.

And to put the cherry on this symbolism sundae, I never remember to take them when I need them most: night driving.

In other words, this thing from which I benefit greatly - this beautiful, valuable thing which, when I take advantage of it, helps me do better - is the thing I most casually disregard and take for granted.

Not all problems can be erased with a soft, dry cloth.