I can still see the lights of my LA Gears reflecting from the Pennsylvania Ave S.E. storefronts.
Ma mere walked as I skipped along heading to the second floor of semi-enclosed professional building.
When I opened the door, the bells sound of “doon-doon” alerted the optical sale associate of our arrival.
After being greeted and checking in, it was now time to have my annual eye exam.
There were walls as far as the eye could see filled with fabulous frames.
I tried each pair on and pranced around the sparsely furnished optical suite while ma mere spoke with the staff about payment options.
When it was time to select my frame, I was well aware that the options available via the insurance my family had was very minimal.
As I waved my tiny index finger over the box that contained six frames that had previously slid side to side as the sales associate retrieved the box from under his desk, I made my selection.
When ma mere and I returned to the office exactly two weeks later to retrieve my pair of glasses, already knowing that I couldn’t have them, I played in all of the fabulous frames adorning the wall of the optical suite.
At seven years old I can recall looking in the mirror saying:
“WHEN I GROW UP, I WILL HAVE GLASSES FOR EVERYDAY OF THE WEEK.”
Oui mes amies, at seven years old, I had set goals for myself.
Glasses are not only apart of my identity, they are a necessity.
To the surprise of many, every single pair of glasses (and sunglasses) that I own are medicated.
I have worn glasses every day since the second grade.
I’ve never worn contacts because the thought of anything, even air touching my eyes creeps me out to no end.
As with my stack-o-bracelets, my frames are purchased from all over the world. When I travel, I make a point to purchase them from markets, shops, and kiosks. The more obscure, the better. No online presence, parfait!
I make these purchases with the hopes that an optometrist can replace the lens with my medicated prescription.
I’m typically lucky to have my non-refundable frames bartered from souks and salons transformed to wearable face art but there are times when I am not so lucky.
I have had to gift my beloved frames to friends and family that I was not able to have filled with my prescription and mes amies, it wasn’t easy.
It’s not only the cost but the memories that each of these frames holds.
The moment I select a frame for the day, I’m instantly transported to a very specific time and place.
One frame may whisk me away to the waltzed I shared with an absolute stranger along the Seine.
Another may take me to the time I ate too many tapas, drank too much tempranillo, and missed my train to Tarragona.
As fate would have it, I now walk the same steps as my mother while my curious child skips ahead of me to the optometrist.
Because of the sacrifices my mother made, when the bell of the optometrist shop “doon, doon” and alerts the sales associate of the arrival of my son and me, I wave my finger around the massive wall of frames and assure him that he can pick any frame he’d like.
Beauty is certainly in the eye of the beholder, and my choice to see the world via a rose-colored lens just adds to that magnificence.