Head’s up; this essay is sponsored by Zenni.
In second grade, wearing pigtails and saddle shoes, I tried to fail my vision test.
My cousin Katie had just scored her first pair of glasses, after all, and they were green and big with an ever-so-slight Sally Jessy Raphael feel to them. They were perfection, is what I’m saying. Overnight, Katie had transformed from my best friend to my future style icon. Glasses. Tie-dye. Keds. Banana clips. What would be next? Crimped hair?
But you don’t need glasses, is one thing my mother had said.
Be thankful for that, is another.
I wasn’t, of course, thankful.
And so, the next time I visited the school nurse, I asked to read the eye chart. I pretend-stammered over letters, perfected my squinty, confused look.
Shoot, I must really need glasses, I say to the nurse in a faux-disappointed tone.
She saw right through the whole performance, shooed me and my 20/20 vision back into Mrs. Beckett’s classroom to finish a D’Nealian lesson.
Years later, I no longer have to perfect my squinty, confused look. I come by it honestly – a blend of sensitive eyes and hours spent typing into a glowing computer. During Scout’s nap, I curl up with a book and find my eyes need a rest every few pages.
Is this aging? I ask my girlfriend later, our kids swapping turns on the rope swing.
What isn’t? she says, and we both quiet, watch another Tarzan impression.
A few weeks ago, I read about Zenni’s Blokz lenses, a new way to filter out UV and blue light from computer screens. I upload a photo to the frame fit feature, follow directions to measure my pupillary distance. The whole process spans twenty minutes tops, eighteen of those spent searching for my own version of Sally Jessy perfection.
And while they’re functional and safe and protective, I love them for a totally different reason: style. They’re cute, is all. The ultimate accessory. Finally: I’ve joined the ranks of the Katies far and wide, three decades later.
I have often believed the lie that says aging is something that changes you. Gray hair shows up, your knees suddenly ache, your vision “isn’t what it used to be.” An appearance altered, a soul revised.
But then I recall David Bowie’s famed words on the subject:
“Aging is an extraordinary process where you become the person you always should have been.”
And I like that better. Growing down, if you will, into our origins. There’s an innocence about it, a natural order of refinement. Pure. Simple. Becoming you, in reverse.
And today, this morning, in my Blokz lenses, I think of that saddle-shoed 2nd grader and smile with recognition.
There you are, I think. All along.