I got my first pair of bifocals yesterday. It was time. I have been struggling with short-range vision for a while now, even though I already wear glasses for long-range vision; I acquired glasses back in the third grade and my prescription hasn’t changed much since that time. I have been taking off my glasses to read for several years, but I am beginning to have trouble even with that. Picking out a frame was a pain in the ass; it seems that simple classic looking frames don’t fit my face quite right. I finally went with a round pair of metal frames, but they are too conservative for me.
It’s strange to look in the mirror at my conservative bifocals and my grey temples. I look old. My chin has been growing in thick dark hairs for more than a decade; it seems like I find new ones every couple months. I have a mole on one cheek that has a thick black hair that likes to grow out of it, and also hairs on my neck and upper lip. I figure by the time I reach eighty I should have a fairly good chance at a sparse beard. I’m stocky and fat, so my neck is about the same width as my head, and I don’t wear make-up, so really, from the neck up I look like my father – if my father were to get his ears pierced and grow his hair long and pull it back with a headband. It’s kind of surreal.
It sets me back emotionally to look at myself in the mirror and see this old person looking back at me, but it’s ironic in a way – the very things that I do that make me look this way were set in place by a much younger self. Child-Me said a long time ago that she would not get drawn in to the make-up game or ever dye her hair. The traumatized teen I once was probably made a similar decision regarding weight and sexuality. But now when I look at myself, those younger voices are the ones affronted by my appearance. Not to mention my mother’s voice; she would be appalled if I left all these awful hairs alone. How does modern me feel about all this, right here and now? I am not sure. I think I would like to be less burdened by the perceived need to have a face that I don’t have or to change the one I do have. I would like, in short, to be able to leave the hairs alone.
I spend a lot of energy trying to pacify the voices from my past, despite the fact that this is my life now, and despite the fact that their decisions are actually largely responsible for the very things they find distasteful. What’s more – the people around me seem to care even less about the hairs on my chin than I do. So, I guess I’m learning to relax around this.
And it’s nice to be able to work at the computer without squinting and without hunching over the screen.