I walked into my ophthalmologist's office on the Upper West Side of Manhattan expecting to get a routine eye exam last week. But by the time I left her office just an hour later, I had learned something truly disturbing.
The check up started out normal. I read the giant "E" at the top of the eye exam chart like an expert. Then, I moved down to the second row. The humongous "F" and "P" were clear as day. I'd never been more confident in my vision.
But then, when I went to the next line, something changed. I couldn't exactly read it. It was blurred. It looked as if the symbols were made of sand and a giant woman had blown the sand ever so slightly.
I couldn't believe it. The wind was knocked from my lungs. I was unable to speak. I started to crying as I stumbled over the line. Was the first symbol a "C", a "6", or a child's drawing of an elephant wearing a fedora? I had no idea.
I broke down, and yelled out for help.
But none came because the awful truth was written on the wall. And I couldn't read it. So, my opthamologist read it for me. The words tumbled from her mouth in slow motion.
"You need glasses," she said. Those three fateful words buckled my knees. I laid on the floor of her office in the fetal position and realized that my life was forever changed.
My hindsight was actually more like 20/80, and I had no idea.
Most people can look back at their life with complete clarity. They can judge their past decisions, learn from them, and apply those learnings to their life today.
But I could only look back on my life from 20 feet what a normal person could look back on their life from 80 feet. I was a freak.
What I thought were clear memories only an hour before became blurred and misshapen.
I thought back on critical decisions from my past. What had I missed? Had I made the right choices?
Did I make the right decision when I broke up with my college girlfriend so I could focus on my school work? Or had I merely broken up with a human-looking bush, and she and I are technically still dating? It's so hard to tell now.
Should I have gone to Barcelona after graduating to spend a year teaching Spanish to children? Or did I actually just spend a really long time talking to kids in a Taco Bell? I didn't know anymore!
Memories flooded into my brain. But they were fuzzy. I couldn't trust any of them.
I thought of the time I saw Tom Hanks at Starbucks last year. A precious memory, indeed.
But when thinking back after this horrific realization, the details were distorted. Had I actually just watched You've Got Mail while drinking a latte on my couch at home? Or was it that I'd spilled coffee on my favorite pair of shorts while watching Castaway with my brother?
But I don't have a brother. On the other hand, given this new revelation, maybe I do have a brother and I just overlooked this crucial detail my entire life. It was impossible to know.
And now, a week after the visit, I look back and think how it changed my life. But truth be told, I can't be sure that's true. I haven't filled my glasses prescription yet.