From the third grade
on, I've had glasses. They were for the longest time the cheap and bright pastel
plastic ones you buy for little girls
with bad vision so they would less likely get broken if misplaced. They never complimented my face, but neither did the Dutch boy bangs
and Peter Pan
collar uniform shirts I wore for most of my life in private school. In my first year of high school and for reasons I am still unsure of, I donned a pair or bright red framed glasses a la Sally Jesse Raphael
. Luckily for my style ignorance, I was able to get contact lenses soon after that, and glasses became a secondary option for proper sight, a thing I didn't have to deal with until it was almost time to go to bed
Now in my apartment, I have a pair of glasses in my old prescription from over 2 years ago still in a case on the bottom shelf in my bathroom. The pair I am wearing now as I write this is to date the first pair of glasses that I have owned that I actually like wearing, the first pair I think I ever bought with my own money. Since my vision has been bad for so long, and I have astigmatism in both eyes, glasses and contacts have always been expensive for me, and since my parents always had to buy them before, I had to work with what they could afford. Anyone who owns glasses or had to wear them as a child knows what I am talking about. There was always that rack of frames your mother guided you to, the cheapest and ugliest ones in the entire shop. Your mother knew things you didn't: that you would grow out of them within a year (either in strength or size), that you would break them or misplace them, that you were her child, despite the things that you knew: you would be ridiculed in some fashion, you would be embarrassed even further for your bad eyes, you would never get asked to the prom. In debates like these, the one with the wallet usually won, and you got over it.
I felt the pinch in my own wallet when I purchased the ones I am wearing now. Altogether, even with my crappy HMO, I dished out about $300 for them. I keep the old ones for the same reasons we all do; I know that even as I consider myself grown up, it never hurts to have a back up pair of glasses, even if they will give you headaches because they are now far too weak for your eyes, but at least you will be able to see at all. The old ones are round and unflattering, whereas the new ones are oval and thinner so as not to give me that ever attractive goldfish look common for a prescription that enables someone who cannot see normally a foot past her nose to see clearly for at least a few blocks. The lovely comparison to now outdated Coke bottles. Ah, the memories I could share.
We all keep the ugly parts of ourselves, both in the past and present, near us as a backup for when we are unable to be beautiful for the world. To remind us of where we were, what we looked like, how we have changed, and maybe to our chagrin, how we haven't changed at all. Some of us have our old retainer cases that we now use to store spare change, or a pair of jeans we may never, ever fit into again, or, God, those awful yearbooks. As long as we have markers like this to declare time, I am not so worried about how fast we grow up these days, how swiftly our world is aging us.