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A Change in Vision

I’ve worn contact lenses since I was in the 4th grade.

Yup, ever since I achieved 10 years of age, I’ve been resting tiny circlets of plastic-like material over my pupils each day to enhance my vision. But, of course, with great power (like being able see better than 20/20 with my fashionable gas permeables) comes great responsibility … A responsibility that took years to master.

I suppose I’ve lost about ten contact lenses since I began using them … Starting in Mr. Rathbun’s 4th grade, when in my polka-dot bubble sailor dress, my peers and I left our math books open on our desk and walked down the long green hall to the gym sock-smelling auditorium to have our class photo snapped. Somewhere in that hallway, between Mrs. Winkle’s 1st grade classroom and the water fountain, one of my contact lenses escaped me. Maybe I blinked too many times in a row, or perhaps I tried to look a little too far to the left at Todd What-His-Name walking behind me, but either way a little green-blue lens popped out of my eye, and landed somewhere on the linoleum … The blue-green linoleum.

Our class, including myself (sans vision in one eye), marched down the hall, lined up on some prepared bleachers and had our photo snapped. And because was wearing my polka-dot bubble sailor dress, and because it was the late 80s and I was in that gangly phase of youth, and especially because I couldn’t see very well, I didn’t take a very good picture that day.

Second Row, Second from the right.


But, never fear, this story has a happy ending … After the moment was immortalized on Kodachrome, I casually sauntered over to my teacher and mentioned that I had lost an expensive piece of equipment, and that my mom would just kill me if I came home without it; back in the day, those babies would set you back about $70 a lens. So, my entire class made its way back to the classroom at the end of the long green hall on our hands and knees, gently patting ground for any sign for my precious, concave disc.

When the search party had been boiled down to just a few stragglers hoping to avoid the coming math quiz and a handful of good friends, Mr. Rathbun called off the search. He opened his mouth and began to say, “Aimee, I think you’ll have to go to the office,” but only got as far as, “Aimee, I th …” before The Miracle happened.

Every 4th grade class has their picked-on, bullied, teased kid, and my 4th grade was no different. Who knows why one kid becomes The Class Clown and another becomes The Most Popular Kid in School and yet another becomes The Kid Everybody Makes Fun Of? Maybe it’s because they have funny hair, or maybe they ate more than the socially acceptable amount of paste in Kindergarten, or maybe it’s because they were just a little weird one day and the moniker painfully and horribly stuck.

Our Made-Fun-Of Kid was named Matt. I won’t describe him with words, but scan the faces above and you’ll find him there. You’ll find him in me, and you’ll find him in faces that remind you of yourself, because we’re all a little the Made-Fun-Of Kid in the 4th grade. It’s just harder to see it when you’re living it, isn’t it?
Back to The Miracle … Mr. Rathbun was about to send me to the office, to call my mom, and tell her the bad (and expensive) news, when Matt ran up to us and said, “Does the thing, your contact, look like a little piece of green glass?”

“Well, yeah, I guess so,” I hesitantly remember replying.

“Is this it?” And there, perched on his grubby little pointer finger, was my contact lens.

And, here’s The Miracle, for the rest of the day the Made-Fun-Of Kid was a Hero in our classroom. And for the rest of the school year, he was my own Hero, having saved my bacon from a fate worse than creamed corn (i.e., having to fess up to my mom about losing a contact). But, more importantly, that day he saved me from a dark, blurry world, literally and figuratively. For me, a twist of fate where the Dork – not the Cute Boy or not the Smart Guy – saved the day forever changed my adolescent worldview.

Who knew that a tiny little circle could have such a powerful impact?

Comments

Great story Aimee! I remember the event vividly....although I do not believe that I would have killed you had you not come home without your precious lens!

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