Friday, September 14, 2007

Vision-Where Is The Road Home ?

Where Is The Road Home?
image size 8"x11" paper size 9"x12"
It was June. Time for our school reunion in a nearby town. My sister came to town for the event, and took me to the hall where we visited, had barbeque, looked at old yearbooks, and spent time with old friends-people who were like brothers and sisters after spending so many years together.

Once I sat down with my classmates, and were joined by people from the class ahead of us-the class I had started to school with since they were my playmates and neighbors-I tried to stay in one spot. It was hard to get in and out from the table, and getting up and down out of a chair bothered my knees. But, I quickly realized that my eyes were preventing me from seeing who people were away from the table. The only people I got to see were those sitting with me, those who came to visit our table, and people I saw as I was entering and leaving the hall.

"Is that .....?" my friends would ask me.
I might see a figure somewhere, but couldn't tell who it was. "I don't know. I can't see them!" I laughed. I might as well laugh, although it was frustrating. Later, I wished that I had wandered around some, and taken pictures of people.

Someone spoke in the center of the room. It was a man, but I couldn't tell who it was. I did see a few people when I was in line to eat. I was a bit reluctant to get in line, and didn't really want to eat, as usual. I would have rather just visited.

Later, there was a small band and dancing. But, it was like when we were in high school. Girls willing to dance, waiting for someone to ask us to dance, but no one did. The guys hung out together, the girls hung out together. If we danced, we usually had to dance with each other, in the days when we were learning to dance. But, now, we all had marriages behind us, or had husbands who didn't like to dance, and were back to being "wallflowers". But, there wasn't anyone we particularly wanted to dance with anyway. It would have been like having to dance with your brother. And, the guys now had wives. And some of us, can no longer dance, if anyone had asked us! The spirit is willing, but the knees say "No!" So, we talked and watched, until we grew weary of shouting over the band.

My friend and classmate, Kathryn, was staying in a motel in my town, so, in order to spend more time with her, and to save my sister an extra trip, I asked her to take me home.

I chatted too much, but it was so good to be with my old friends. I explained that I couldn't see very well, and that the signs were really hard for me to make out. I realized, too, that, since I hadn't been driving for a while, I didn't really pay attention to how to get home, or where I was going. I could tell by landmarks in the daytime, if I found something familiar. But, this place is growing and changing constantly. Things that I have been seeing all my life, have been torn down and replaced. I can't read the signs until too late to turn, but I can make out landmarks.

I thought, "How embarrassing! I can't even find my way home!"

There were big signs on the freeway, but they all looked like squiggles, until I was beside them.
I told her to look for a sign that directed motorists to the big library and museum, which is fairly new. We had already passed it.
Well, we could go through town on another road, but, then that meant more signs.

It was about time for my daughter to pick up my grandson after work that night. I knew that there was a large bank building next door to where he worked, and just off this freeway. I thought it would save time and driving for her, and frustration for me, if she just dropped me off at his work and I could ride home with my family.

Through the dark of the night, out on the freeway, a green highway sign glowed and reflected lights. Letters appeared as only meaningless squiggles. The red lights of an intersection on the frontage road, just up the little hill, glowed behind the sign. A little of that intersection showed. But, which one was it? They all look alike!

Tail lights from the car ahead of us looked like red stars, while the headlights coming toward us looked like yellow stars

Lights lining that section of the freeway appeared to have spokes and faded into balls or burts, like fireworks, of light. The moon appeared to be three overlapping circles of yellow and orange. The building that I was using as a landmark, glowed bright in the night. I had not liked it when they built that tall building, taking away from the natural landscape that we still enjoy-the tree line and the open skies. But, this night, I was so glad it was there, or we might be riding forever, trying to get me home!

Above the building was a strange shape, that looked like a space station or something from a sci fi movie. "What is that?" I didn't want to ask. I already felt so dumb for not being able to find my way to my house, or even where my grandson worked, without that big building. It reminded me of the times when I was growing up in the '50s, and science fiction movies became popular. They may look fake now, but, to us, they could be real things happening. We were just learning about things like flying saucers and Martians, and outer space. I walked up the little hill to my house, after those movies, anxious and worried about what might be in those star filled skies above my house and the school. And what might be coming to get us. I didn't know if it would be Martians or Communists that might jump out and do horrible things to us, or even steal us away or murder us in our beds. My mother often had to sleep with me after scarey movies! I was terrified, but I had to act brave as I left my date or friends after those movies.

Kathryn let me out in the parking lot and went on her way. It had been a long day with a lot of driving. I met my grandson, my daughter showed up, and all was pretty much okay again. I was already missing my friends. The reunions are always too short for me.

I sat in the back seat with my youngest grandson on the way home. It was dark. I couldn't see any of the signs on the way home, as usual, because I was looking at the back of the seat in front of me. Another reason why I haven't been paying attention to signs.

When we got home, and entered our house, I asked my grandson, "What's that big thing in the sky?" It was the thing I had seen hovering over the big building, and now it was glowing blue above the big oak tree in our yard.

"Grandma, that's a star!" my grandson told me.

Logically, I knew that there would be just one center point of light with that star. The "space station" that I was seeing was definitely more unusual and evoked different feelings. It was a bit of a disappointment, but comforting to know that creatures from outer space were not hovering above us.
I knew that driving was not an option, at least until I can get my eyes fixed. I wouldn't even want to try to drive with my problem reading signs. Some people seem to be able to drive with Macular Degeneration. I don't know how they do it. At this stage, I only have AMD in my left eye, but cataracts have formed in both eyes. I think that I am still able to do quite a few things, and most of the vision problems are annoying and frustrating. The one thing that I have had to stop doing is driving. With vision in one eye, it looks like I would be able to drive. I can still see things, until I close my good eye. Then, things appear distorted, have a purple and green spot, or , at times, they are much darker.

Fortunately, I do have someone who can drive and do errands, and take me places, when I need to go. I prefer being able to look for pictures, talk to my grandson, or even draw or write in the car. There are artists who do "drive by paintings", and that's sort of fun. I don't think I could paint in the car, though. I would have paint everywhere! A few years ago, I decided to do some paintings of this area, and had my daughter drive around the countryside while I did watercolors. The car bounced too much, and I really couldn't do it. So, I opted for a camera to take reference photos. Still, there is something about painting on location. You just capture things that can't be captured through a camera.

I did this painting, first as a pencil line drawing. Then, I did a soft watercolor, which shows the pink glow of lights from the city. I like some parts of that little painting. However, I remember the lights coming out of the dark along the freeway, so I did a second painting, which is the one above. I thought that you might like to see the process, so I am including those first two pictures below.

Thanks for reading and sharing. I do appreciate your interest and support, and I welcome inquiries and comments. Be sure to let me know if you see something that is of particular interest to you.
And, be sure to check out the links I have on my sidebar.
If you would like to go back to see my earlier posts on my experiences with Macular Degeneration, look in the Archives. All those posts will be prefaced by the word Vision. I have tried to keep those in the order as they occured.
Have a good TGIF ! Thank goodness it's Friday. Time for football games, weekend activities, or "whatever makes you happy".

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