I am sharing a short memoir that I wrote about two years ago. I decided to shared it "as is" even thought it's a bit rough, so please ignore my punctuation boo boos. I've always wanted to have "style", but generally fall very short of it. I'm mostly a bluejeans, t-shirt, sneakers kind of gal, though under the right circumstances... when the planets are aligned just right... I might be seen in a dress and a nice pair of shoes. Anyway, here's my story:
From Behind My Glasses
I have a certain perspective on the world. It’s partly due to the fact that I have no perspective…physically that is. Well, not “no” perspective, but it is impaired along with my overall vision.
When you grow up looking at the world from behind a pair of bottom-of-a-pop-bottle thick, heavy lenses, it skews how you see things. I felt like a nerd. Perhaps I was one, or am one in the truest sense of the word. I had to continually grope for ways to interact in an accepted manner.
It wasn’t just the glasses. I was fashion challenged. My grandmother was the fashionista in our home. She would dress up to go out; hair just so, pretty little high heels, you get the picture.
I was getting ready for a big family birthday party. I remember trying to find a shirt or a sweater to wear with my skirt. The skirt was nice. Right in fashion for it’s time. It had a nice cream background with a dark brown leaf pattern. Busy, but definitely in fashion. I held up one shirt after another, getting more frustrated by the minute.
It was almost time for the guests to arrive. Grandma, tired of my slow inability to decide, came in and pulled a shirt out of my closet. It was white, with an equally busy bright orange paisley pattern. “Orange and brown look nice together. Wear this.” And, like the nerd I was, I let her convince me. I have a picture of me at that birthday party. I looked like a fashion nightmare! Not just a “don’t” like you’d see in a ladies magazine, but a “what cave did she just crawl out of don’t!” Hair slicked back behind a wide bright headband, ankle socks with pointed little slip-ons at least a size too small, and of course, my cat-eye brown glasses that I got in the fifth grade. What 13 year old wouldn’t want to lock herself in her room and never come out again? But I, in my perpetually nerd-like manner, sashayed around the house as if I was the hottest number this side of the Rockies. I had no clue at the time that Grandma, in the interest of having everything ready on time, had grabbed the first shirt she laid her hands on.
The point of sharing this is to prepare you for the complete and utter mess that is me. I wanted so much to be loved, to be fashionable, to be loved, to be talented, to be loved, to be popular, and let’s face it…just to be loved. I didn’t particularly see anything about my 13 year old gawky, uncultured, self that was worthy of any kind of love. And, forget about respect or popularity! Out of the question!
These were the days of the early 70’s. I was too young to be a true part of the hippy culture, and we were still a distance away from the John Travolta white leisure suits and disco hip! It was that confusing time of mini, midi, and maxi skirts. Hot pants one day and ruffled blousy blouses the next. From Holly Hobby to braless decadence!
Girls at my school had just been given permission to wear “pants suits” as well as dresses. That was a major coup! We had choices! If you did wear a dress and it looked too short, you had to kneel on the floor while a teacher took a ruler and measured from the floor to the hem. If I remember correctly, it had to be 2 inches or less between dress and floor. Some girls, not me, had to have the lady P. E. Teacher administer what was called the “pencil test”; if the pencil stayed in place you were required to wear a brassiere. Well, you get the picture. I was stuck smack dab in the middle of the conservative early 60’s mentality and the heyday of the love generation.
When you wear thick glasses, people have a way of not looking you in the eyes. Maybe the distorted appearance of the eye itself is disconcerting to them. Maybe the reflective glare of the lens sets up an invisible barrier they don’t want to penetrate, for fear of what lies behind. No matter, suffice it to say that glasses were to 13 year old girls as kryptonite was to Superman. Totally, and devastatingly, debilitating to any chance of a normal social life. And this, when coupled with my lack of any level of fashion sense, brings us to the truth of my status as a nerd.
The view from behind my glasses was both unreachable and intimidating. I remember thinking I’d look ridiculous in a bridal veil. The glasses just wouldn’t look right; therefore, no veil for me! Forget sports! My glasses would be in the way and if I removed them, I could barely make out my own hand in front of my face. I let the imaginary barrier become a wall that I couldn’t climb over.
I’m nearly 50. I find myself at times still hiding behind my glasses, holding the world at a safe distance. I can sometimes almost make myself invisible, and perhaps, if invisible I am also invincible.
Once in a while I find myself letting my guard down, coming out from behind my glasses; and being surprised that a world seen slightly out of focus becomes softer. I am forced to step closer to what I’m looking at to really see it. Life, and how I observe it, is merely a matter of my level of perception. Stepping in closer brings a vulnerability that, even now, I may not be ready for. On most days, I will probably still choose the view from behind my glasses.
Copyright 2006 by Owner of this blog, Created March 7, 2006, Final Version June 1, 2006