Whenever a person discovers something about themselves as an adult that has been present or growing since childhood, they inevitably think about the signs they may have missed; things that would have tipped them off sooner, given them a clue to the journey ahead.
A few months ago, I was going through some old photos from when I was a small child. I came across a picture that was taken on a beach in Mexico when I was about three years old. My eyes were squinted against the glare of the sun and I was reaching for a pair of sunglasses that were perched on a rock nearby. I looked desperate to escape the bright sunlight and it is a look I recognize. Growing up in California, my family was always going to the beach and wanting to bask in the sun, but I always preferred the cloudy days. They all thought I was strange or moody, but even then, the sun actually hurt my eyes.
As I got older, I was called clumsy because I was always tripping and stubbing my toes and knocking things over. I couldn’t hit a softball in P.E. class or catch the ball when I was forced into the outfield. I appeared careless, unathletic, always in a day-dream, but I was actually going blind.
When I was learning to drive, I remember being in the car one afternoon with my mom, who began shrieking that I was driving too close to the edge of the road and that we were going to go off the cliff. My mom was prone to drama and there wasn’t really a cliff, just a five-inch drop off the road into the dirt. She thought I wasn’t paying attention, but I actually couldn’t see the side of the road.
Into my 20’s I continued to trip and fall and live up to my reputation as either the clumsy day dreamer or the girl who has had too much to drink. I had a friend tell me I was the only 24-year-old she knew who actually fell down and skinned her knees. I missed curbs and crashed into street lamps and nursed the bruises that peppered my skin. I thought perhaps I was drinking too much, but actually the edges of the world were disappearing and I didn’t even know it.
Today, the signs are of things to come rather than pre-cursors to what has arrived. I wait for the markers of my deteriorating vision, notice how the glare of the sun gets meaner and how once effortless tasks are becoming more difficult. And some days I am moody. Some days I am careless. Some days I dream. And some days I drink too much.