That Was Unbearable


It was like getting fucked up.

Without getting the fucked up part.

I mean, I could not have predicted this morning that you would find me in a smoke shop on Divisadero and Haight this afternoon fumbling around the sunglasses looking for something to take the glare off my eyes.

I haven’t been that frantic for sunglasses since early morning raids made on the Shell Station across the street from the End Up years ago to shade my eyes from the suns rays and the moon’s philandering.

It was horrid.

I felt high, but I was not high.

There was too much light in the day and the day being overcast actually made it worse.

I found this out this evening when the light started to fail and it was getting easier for me to maneuver about.

I had my eyes dilated today.

I went into the optometrist appointment excited for the prospect of getting contact lenses for the playa.

Contact lenses, fyi, that did not end up happening.

It turns out that I have an astigmatism in both my eyes, slightly worse in my left eye than in my right, and that means that contact lenses are a challenge to fit to my eyes and when the doc found out that I was only getting them for Burning Man she actually advised me against them.

She told me that the kind of astigmatism I have is poorly treated with contact lenses.  That I would actually see less well with the contacts than with my glasses.

She ran all the tests and said she would see if she could find a proper prescription in stock, which there was not much of, also, apparently, I have an atypical astigmatism, I don’t think I was hearing a lot of the speak, just getting my brain wrapped around the idea that glasses are now truly it for me, that I was not going to be wearing contact lenses at Burning Man or ever again.

“Well, we do have the prescription, but it may not feel very good, I’m going to have you try it out and run some more tests,” she said as I followed her out to wash my hands and insert the contacts in my eyes.

I was surprised at how easily it all came back to me.

I haven’t worn contacts in over twelve years since I had the laser surgery in 2002, but it was like riding a bike, I remembered where to pull down on my lid and intuitively knew that the lenses were right side up and not upside down.

I got both in quite fast and saw immediately what she meant.

The contact couldn’t fully correct my vision, in fact my vision became worse wearing the contacts then with my glasses on.  It turned out that my eyesight was as good with the contacts as they were without.

Meaning that the correction was so negligible that I would have as much sight as if I was just without my glasses, therefore idiotic to bother getting contacts if they couldn’t correct up to my glasses prescription.

It was too much and I said so and no point in getting the contacts.

So.

The doctor said, well as long as you’re here let’s do a full exam and see how your eye health is in general since you haven’t been in for two years.

Ok.

That means dilating your eyes she said.

Ok.

Had I known.

I would have said, fuck no.

I did not notice it at first, I mean I was busy getting lights flashed in my eyes and following light beams with my eyes and staring at small letters and numbers and what not.

But I noticed it as soon as I walked outside.

It was like getting walloped in the face.

I couldn’t stand the glare of the light, just day light, and that made no sense to me, as it wasn’t even bright out, it was overcast all day long and foggy and grey.

But it was horror in my head.

I had to literally shade my eyes with my hand and look down.

I stumbled to the 71 Noriega bus stop and scrambled to find a seat.

I sat down and out of habit took out my notebook to write down what I had spent at the doctor’s office and found I could not focus my eyes enough to see my check book.

I started to panic a little.

How long was this going to last?

I got off the bus at Divisadero and Haight Street to catch the 24 up to Noe Valley.

I couldn’t read what the NextBus app was saying on my phone, I realized I couldn’t read the texts on my phone either or see the number of the calls that had come in while I was looking at tiny letters on an off white screen in a darkened room.

Fuck.

I looked up at the monitor on the bus stop and saw that I had a half an hour to wait.

I couldn’t handle it.

I tried to sit.

I tried to stand.

I couldn’t see for shit.

I looked across the street, squinted, and saw sunglasses in the window of a smoke shop.

I made my way over to the store and for the first time in nine years set foot in a smoke shop.

I spun the racks and pulled out a pair of aviator glasses.

I tried them on.

The immediate relief was so profound I almost cried out, “thank you God.”

I paid for them and I am sure I was not the first person in the store that day to buy a pair of sunglasses as the dude rang me up and took a look at my dilated eyes.

I pulled the weird shaped paper sunglasses out of my purse as I reached for my wallet,  the optometrist had given me them saying I may want them, and asked the clerk to chuck them for me.

I am not sure why I had to tell him that I had just been at the eye doctor, but I had to.

It was the truth.

But, man, it just made me sound like I was high, high, high.

I chuckled and actually did enjoy some of the afternoon walking up Divisadero waiting for the bus, ducking into a few shops and not taking off my sunglasses.

I felt momentarily fabulous and cool.

Although it was bizarre to shop at Whole Foods later on when I did make it up to Noe Valley, I couldn’t read the labels of things and stood in front of a cold case trying to make out the price on a package of organic chicken breasts, I tried to read the label with the sunglasses on, then off, then on again, then I laughed and just put the fucking chicken in my basket.

I was getting stared at.

Crazy lady in the chicken aisle.

No.

Just one with an irregular astigmatism in both eyes and a cheap pair of drugstore sunglasses to hide those pupils.

I swear.

REALLY.

I am not high.

So the next time I think someone’s tweaking in the grocery store or riding the bus.

I am just going to tell myself.

They just got out of an eye doctor’s appointment.

That’s all.

 

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