I got my first pair of glasses in middle school.
I think it was sixth grade.
It’s a weird thing, prescriptive eye correction. You don’t really know you need it until someone else tells you that you need it. I had to sit in the back of Mr. Moreno’s class and I couldn’t see the board. I didn’t find it a problem, just moderately annoying, sort of like the gum that was stuck under the tables. The gum wasn’t annoying unless I accidentally touched it. The board wasn’t annoying unless someone asked me to read it.
I went to the coast land center mall and got my first pair of glasses. They were metal, green and heavy. I remember walking outside and not really noticing my eyesight was that much better until I looked at the palm trees lording over the parking lot.
They had individual strands in their palm fronds, making them look like giant, green feathers.
I’d never known that. I had just thought they were a giant leaf, like the plastic palm fronds in my Ancient Egyptian cursed tomb Lego set.
It took me another week, but I started to notice something else, too.
Everything was dirty.
When you have bad eyesight, you can’t see the dog hair on the carpet.You can’t spot the scuffs on the tile floor. You can’t see the dirt marks on the wall. You can’t see the stains in the ceiling.
When you’re half blind, it’s all clean.
Everything was tainted.
I hated it.
My parents used to look so young, but now…
Now they had wrinkles.
I wanted to go back, back to that fuzzy world where everything was clean and my parents were eternally young.
I couldn’t, though. I had to read the board in Mr. Moreno’s class.
As the years went by, I didn’t notice the dirt anymore.
I got used to it.
At some point, I started to notice the opposite.
I’d see somebody walking to class without a blemish on her face and I’d wonder “are you real?” I’d be at the pool and someone would have no body hair at all and I’d want to ask him “are you a human?” I’d go into somebody’s house and there wouldn’t be a stain in the whole place and I would almost say “why did you bring me here? Let’s hang out where you live.”
People are dirty. They make dirt. If there’s someone you know who isn’t dirty, then they probably aren’t a person.
I’m not saying clean people aren’t people. Most of them are.
No, that’s not what I’m saying at all.
I’m just saying what I want.
I want dirt.
Give me stains.
I take my glasses off and I look around and think:
I don’t want this bright and clean world. Give me shadow and stain.
I don’t want this museum. Give me a place that’s lived in.
I don’t want somebody perfect. I want someone real.
Give me a waterlogged notebook. I wan’t it’s cover cracked and dyed with watermarks from blood and tears and sweat. I hope you dropped it in a puddle at one point. I hope you remember why.
I hope the words aren’t pretty. I hope they are scrawled almost illegible by a woman whose hand just can’t keep up with her brain. I want reading you to be like solving a riddle, cracking a code, finding the rosetta stone.
I hope your shoe has a hole in it.
I hope your right glasses lens is scratched.
I hope you have a scar on your knee from when you fell off a bicycle. I hope it didn’t heal correctly because you got back on the bike and kept riding anyway because you didn’t want your sister to get too far ahead and your parents had told you they’d get you a cappuccino when you made it to the coffee shop on third street and you love cappuccino even though your only twelve and everyone tells you twelve-year-olds should drink yohoo and coffee will stunt your growth and you know it doesn’t and but you’re a little worried that it does.
I don’t want a pristine world.
I don’t want a clean life.
I want a dirty life. A messy one.
I want a life that, when someone walks into it, they look around at all the underwear and beer cans on the floor and they crinkle their nose at the week old, half-empty coffee mugs on my desk and they glance at my unmade bed and they look at the water stains on my ceiling and they see the plates and the socks and the hair ties and the quarters and wrappers and they everything all over they place and they know.
They know that somebody lives here.
I want a dirty life, rough around the edges and stained.
I hope you have one too.
Those are the interesting sort.