how nice and neat. i wrote extensively about being seen yesterday and then left early for my annual eye exam.

of course, we’re stretching the meaning of “annual” out to “whenever i was last visiting my dad in pennsylvania and he had scheduled an appointment with the guy who’s been my optometrist since i was a wee girl” which is, i believe, going on two, maybe three years instead of one.

what a surprise. my already-sad eyesight has gotten worse, and i now have astigmatism! i couldn’t have written this better myself. luckily i have a charming new optometrist named doctor mah (to rhyme with maw, gaping) who is cheerful when she tells me i will need to be fitted with toric lenses.

(hey kite. remember when we were digging the word “torus”? that’s right, baby! i get ‘em on my eyeballs! woo-hoo!)

actually this process is nowhere near exciting. i am rather confused. i am handed a piece of paper with numbers and decimal points and minus-signs and my name, misspelled (it reads HALSTED BERNAD). i am unhappy about this last but i feel it is my burden to bear, having the good fortune to be fitted with toric lenses. i am told in the same cheerful, possibly insane manner that i must make another appointment and that toric lenses are very expensive and they may not even fit properly and i may be better with glasses and i’m just getting myself used to this idea when i wander into the optical shop and pick out little rounded-rectangular plastic frames i like and rip them from my face in sheer horror as i discover these pieces of flimsy, molded plastic – nothing like my big, sturdy, clumsy yet functional current frames – are $158. frames. only. $158. i’m letting this sink in as another person, this one male, tells me (i am sure these people are all quite mad to be telling me these things in such a gleeful, maniacal way) the lenses that go in the frames are another $98 for the mid-level which is to say “the ones you really don’t want because they will scratch and crack within a matter of weeks and no incredibly uncomfortable contact lenses for you and your football-shaped eyeballs, no no no” and $198 for the high-level, the best, the top of the line, the rolls-royce of magnifying lenses, the epitome of sight.

i can’t add things in my head as fast as most people, but i know what consists of “more than i can afford”, and wasn’t this all supposed to be covered by my Great Medical Benefits anyway?

i miss my dad, suddenly, because yes he spoiled me, because yes he took care of this weird process, because yes i have no idea what i’m doing and i feel silly, yet oddly cheerful, i think it’s the rictus of the optometry profession that’s wearing me down and o, dad, you always took care of the little details and i’m practically 28 and have never bought my own glasses or contact lenses and i’m coddled, whining, and i still miss you taking care of this because it means you’re closeby.

and that’s what’s really bugging me, in the middle of the dingy kaiser permanente optical shop, in the middle of the afternoon, in the middle of some man’s spiel about poly-something-icate coating on high-level lenses. what’s really bugging me is there’s no dad running errands and meeting me after the exam with hot coffee and bird’s nest pastries from down the snow-lined street, there’s no dad patting me on the shoulder and asking the doctor just how much like her old man her eyes have gotten. no. there’s just me, and i’m spoiled, sure, but moreover i’m lonely, missing my father profoundly in the strangest of ways.

there is no one to explain this to, so i walk outside into the sunshine and wait for the bus.

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