topiary cats

topiary cats

Monday, January 26, 2015

On Being Trapped By Wonky Eyes

Some years back, when Daya was very little, I wanted to relocate out of NYC.

I am so glad it never happened.

While NYC is truly the ultimate love-hate relationship, it is home.  I just can't imagine living anywhere else.  I have a sense of belonging here, that I am where I am supposed to be.  Every time I leave, I have a nice time but I am always glad to come back.  My roots are here.

A lot of the reasoning behind my desire to move had to do with feeling very scared and trapped.  I was alone with a baby, which in itself is a restricting experience- physically, financially, timewise, energy-wise...and I felt very trapped and reactive to that.  And I was going through the aftermath of my ill-fated marriage fallout.  It was a vulnerable time.

Another reason is that I don't drive.  This is something most people take for granted and it is not a big deal.  For me it is a very big deal.  I have a pair of extremely wonky eyes, they are green which is nice but they just don't work very well at all.  I was told as a teenager that I would never be able to drive.  So I went to college here in NYC where that wasn't an issue.  And I stayed because you really don't need a car here.

My Stupid Wonky Eyes

In 2006 I mentioned something about not being able to get a driver's license and my eye dr told me I actually could- that I composite correct to (just barely) 20/40 which is the minimum requirement.  He has to fill out the exam paper for me though, I can't pass the eye test at the DMV.  My vision didn't get better, the other doctor was just wrong.  (He also said I have no peripheral vision, which is completely false as my visual field tests every year are textbook perfect.)

So I got a driver's license.  And I haven't driven since my driving test in 2006.  But that was such a big deal for me, getting that license.  I felt less trapped, like I had more control/choice.  I did something I had believed was impossible for so many years.

However, I do not trust my eyes enough to drive.  I really don't.  That, plus a complete lack of road experience makes me Not Roadworthy.  I really should not be driving.  You don't want me on the road, honest.  Also, I would definitely lose my car.

When I tell people about my eyes and driving, they seem not to believe me based on their own visual shortcomings.  And also because I paint. (It doesn't make sense to me either)  Please believe me when I tell you that in all seriousness, your eyes really are better than mine unless you are worse than a minus 16 and/or legally blind in BOTH eyes. (Hey, let's trade!)  I am legally blind in my right eye (even with contacts), whose main function is to provide moral support for my left eye.  I compensate in other ways for my lack of vision.  And no I can't get the laser surgery because you have to be within a certain vision range to get it (I am out of that range) and because no doctor will touch me for non-essential surgery because I am functionally one-eyed.

My eye wonkiness has had an enormous impact on my life- socially and otherwise.  It has enclosed me in ways I might not have been enclosed otherwise, because I really just do not see everything (and everyone) around me. I don't even notice things other people point out, until they say something.  I can be totally oblivious.  I was the runty kid with the coke bottle glasses.  And I know my eyes look funny sometimes. (People often point it out.  Adults and kids.  For my whole life.)  I'm pretty self-conscious about it.

So, I'm not very good at eyesight but I'm very good at other things.  We all have our strengths and weaknesses.

But anyhow, I am at peace now with living here now, though I wasn't for a long time.  I suppose if I have to be trapped somewhere, NYC is probably one of the best places in the world.

(Pic is from the top of the Central Park reservoir 
from over the summer)


  1. To me you live in a concrete jungle. I feel very uncomfortable in a big city. I love to visit there but I wouldn't want to live there. I am truly a small town girl. We all have our limitations whether they are outwardly noticeable or not.

  2. I've always thought you have the most beautiful, soulful eyes and I didn't know about the problems you have with them. Kudos for you for being able to paint so well!

  3. You know what? I admire you! You are a wonder woman considering your vision difficulties and the fact that you work, and raise your daughter. To be commended. Quite good. :)


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