I feel younger than I am. I haven’t been a girl for decades. But, girl was my first identity and it stubbornly refuses to fade into history. Girl defines me. Even before the “boys and girls” of elementary school, my father referred to me as “the girl”—a memory that has remained vivid in part because my mother would remind me of it whenever she spoke of my childhood. So, I am the girl.
For several years, I haven’t seen clearly. This is literally true. I first noticed it as I was driving from Long Island to Manhattan on a snowy December afternoon. The sun suddenly emerged from clouds and the glare blinded me. Good thing my car knows the way. Then, I had difficulty reading in soft light and needed a few overhead, high watt bulbs to read the newspaper. Soon, I realized I had a huge blur in my right eye and a smaller one in my left eye. I panicked. My eyes! What would I do without vision?
Now, these eyes are the eyes of a much younger person. They see clearly again and I am thrown back to a time when my vision was detailed, nuanced and the sun’s rays didn’t blind me. Last May, I shook off my fears and went to the eye doctor. After a cursory look with his instruments, the doctor said I needed cataract surgery in both eyes. Yes, I was on the young side for this surgery but, nevertheless, it had to be done.
My new vision is forcing me to reexamine reality. Along with the joyful anticipation of seeing what I have been unable to see for years, comes the anxiety of catching up, of plunging into unknown realms.