My eyes have become a metaphor, shorthand for all the choices that I’ve made or maybe, for the burdens which I bear. They replace my ears (going deaf, choosing not to spend $12,000 on the digital hearing aides recommended for my particular situation), my knee (that pesky old-school metal knee needs major surgery to repair or replace), and my teeth (crooked and broken). Never let it be said that irony escapes me.
A few weeks ago, I walked among unsuspecting Californians in Berkeley, headed for Pegasus. I don’t carry a cane despite that wobbly knee and shaky legs. A cane complicates matters. Already struggling with the disconnect between my brain and my limbs, I fall into further confusion when I add that lifeless stick. A cane gives me something on which to lean if I pause, but so does a building, or a bike rack, or a parking meter.
People skirted around me on the sidewalk as I navigated from the restaurant at which I’d had breakfast with Kimberley Kellogg. I was headed to indulge one of my unbridled passions — used books. Suddenly I realized that a woman had spoken to me. Her contorted face suggested that I didn’t respond as quickly as she expected. I squinted, adjusting my glasses which have slipped down my nose. She muttered and moved around me. I waited to see what might develop but she was gone, crossing, her hunched shoulders serving as a lingering tribute to her displeasure.
I had my eyes back in focus so I continued walking, holding my glasses, dodging the people who came toward me. In the bookstore, I asked for a restroom and learned that they had stopped providing one for customers. The clerk studied me. He saw a middle-aged woman holding the blue frames of her spectacles, sporting a turquoise crossbody hand-bag, encased in a sweater and a jean jacket. He made a decision, sensing both my harmlessness and my desperation. He handed me a key and gestured.
In the employee bathroom, washing my hands, I studied my face in the mirror over the metal sink. I saw the cattywumpus glasses, the worry lines, the greying roots, all slightly blurred. Time for the six-month eye exam, I sighed to myself. But what kind of specialist was it, again? What did the last guy say that I must I find in this strange land? And can I afford the thousand-dollar outlay? I shook my head. Story of my life, I thought. Just one more thing for which I need to school myself not to complain.
A few weeks later, in court at Clay County, I ran into Mike Hanna. “Judge,” I called, as he walked towards me led by his attendant. “Corinne Corley,” he replied, holding out his hand. I grasped it and told him he looked good. “Nice to see you,” he told me, though his eyes have been sightless for many years. “You too,” I said, and turned away, looking toward the front of the courtroom, suddenly feeling a little ashamed without quite knowing why.
It’s the twenty-first day of the fifty-third month of My Year Without Complaining. Life continues.
“I cried because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet.”― Helen Keller