I See You


Or I would like to see you.

Without the aid of my glasses.

I have decided that I am all ready for Burning Man–wet wipes, Sigg water bottle, Mason jar with handle and sealed top with straw in extra-large size, socks, boots, homemade (like I made it) fascinators, hand salve (for gifting hand rubs, I give a good one, come look me up), sunblock, coconut body lotion, crinoline in my playa box, playa cruiser (American Cyclery has her and she should be ready this week for pick up), makeup, tank tops, bras, underpants, tights, fuzzy pink sweater for cold nights, bandanas, utility belt read, goggles ready–I mean, I really got it all.

If you don’t see food, water, the ticket to the event itself, transportation to and from, it’s because, thankfully, those things are a part of my ask for working the event.

But what I have flirted with before and think I am going to do after just checking a few sites online in a quick search, is contact lenses.

I wear glasses.

My sight is not too bad.

The glasses are because, in the parlance of the ophthalmologist, “you’re getting old.”

Thanks man.

I had laser surgery on my eyes back in 2002.

I had been legally blind and I went to having perfect 20/20 vision in both eyes within a matter of minutes.

In fact, they told me later that one of my eyes may have been corrected to better than 20/20.

The world lit up.

I was blown away by how clear and concise everything was.

When I was first diagnosed with needing glasses I was in the 5th grade.  I had needed them before, absolutely know it, I had problems seeing what was on the chalk board in school, so I always sat up front.

I think most of my classmates thought I was a brown noser, teacher’s pet, by the time I was in third grade.

Not so much.

Although I often did get along quite well with my teachers.

It was because I couldn’t see what was on the board.

I did not know that this was not normal.

I faked the eye exam in elementary school.

I never once had a school nurse figure it out, until after I was in the fifth grade.

It should have gotten red flagged when I was in fourth grade, but it slipped by my teacher, who couldn’t understand at the time what was happening to me.

I had failed my team at a math competition at a school tournament in a neighboring district.  I couldn’t read the questions, they weren’t on paper in front of my face, where I could peer down at them, my nose literally to the paper (my nose was always in a book–buried, not because I was trying to escape, although there is truth to that as well, but because I couldn’t see the letters on the page if held at a normal distance), no, those questions were on overheads on screens in a gym auditorium.

I cried the entire time in frustration, little leaky tears of anger.

I remember writing down the answer to the questions as follows: “I can’t see the questions on the board.”

No one thought to ask me if that was true.

I just got back a test with all red marks on it.

I lost the meet for my team because I got them all wrong.


No wonder I am not a fan of math.

Too much pressure.

My mom tells the story that I was found out when I got hit by a car on my bicycle as I was crossing through an intersection, I said, to explain the car hitting me, that I hadn’t seen it coming.

There is some truth to that, I thought it was making a turn and it was not.

I overestimated how fast it was going and the direction and in a way, sure, I didn’t see it coming.

This did not prompt the eye exam.

My mom did not hurry out and send me to the eye doctor.

Although I won’t soon forget my mom running, bare foot, in grey sweatpants and a green short sleeve t-shirt, her arms pumping as she sprinted down the sidewalk, to me in the cross walk to make sure I was ok.

I don’t think I had a scratch and was horribly embarrassed and thought the whole thing my fault but was afraid to say anything.

No, it was a smart new nurse at Lake View Elementary school that caught me in a lie about the exam.

She was administering the standard test and I don’t know what it was or why, but I hadn’t memorized it fast enough.

I would listen to the answers of the children in front of me while the bored nurse pointed out the letters descending on the eye chart and then wave through the next child.

This nurse saw me stumble or pause, or I don’t know, maybe she figured out I was repeating back verbatim what I had just heard.

Whatever the case, she stopped the exam and pulled out a new card, one I had never seen before, literally and figuratively, and I failed with shining colors.

She immediately contacted my family and told my mom I had to go get an eye exam immediately.

I don’t remember much except the dialating  of my eyes feeling really weird.

I also remember the doctor telling me I was going to get to wear glasses.

The other thing I remember, ugh, my soon to be stepfather helping to pick out the frames, the cheapest ones they had, big oversized plastic clear frames with bits of colored confetti floating in the stems.


But I was so happy to see.

I was amazed.

I had been missing so much!

I vowed when I was old enough and had enough money I would get contacts.

And I did, sophomore year of high school.

I never looked back, never wore my glasses again, except right in the morning to go to the bathroom and put in my contacts and last thing at night when I took out my contacts.

Then the laser surgery when I was 29.

Then when I was 39 I had to get glasses.

It was just after Burning Man and I had no idea what I had been missing.

But I was missing a bit, and last year was my first year on playa wearing regular glasses.

Regular glasses sort of suck, is the experience I had.

They get dusty and sweaty and smeary.

So, perhaps there is one more thing I can do before I head out.

Grab a quick eye exam, get a few weeks worth of disposable contacts and the only glasses I will need for the playa will be sunglasses.

I like to be seen.

But I also like to see.

And you know, there’s usually some good stuff to see out there in Black Rock City.

I’ll be there in three weeks.

Can’t wait to see you there!

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