On aging eyes, secret drawers and a long lost neighbourhood

My eyes are a mess. I stare at computer screens for a ridiculous and unhealthy amount of my life so it’s no wonder I have chronic dry eye and issues with my vision. I take the equivalent to a salmon farm’s worth of Omega vitamins and all sorts of potions and concoctions to no avail. While visiting my ophthalmologist the other day, she pointed out my lenses didn’t have a very big reading area (they have three sections to them for people who are aging but not yet ‘old’ I guess). She pointed out I should get some reading glasses and I said, Well, I just spent the same amount on these glasses (indicating to the ones on my face) that I spent buying my first car. Her face remained passive. I realized in that moment she had clients that had glasses for different parts of their life like brunch or the opera or driving and who didn’t have a budget for just one pair as I did.

She astutely picked up on the fact that I was unable to afford another pair of fancy glasses as in not one of her regular clients and ushered me over to the far end of the store. In a hushed tone she signaled to a drawer below us. “We do have some glasses for (in sotto voice) only $75.00.” She nudged open the drawer then put her hand on my shoulder and said I could take as long as I needed. It was as though she’d just delivered some heart wrenching news about a loved one and it was likely I’d need some time by myself. Or as in this drawer does not qualify for a sales person to help you.

So, this was the poor drawer.

I looked around the waiting room. It had Herman Miller furniture and was bright and airy with orange and gray accents that mirrored the brand colours. A woman was sitting with a Hermes scarf and coiffed as in I don’t do rain hair and had the largest diamond ring on that I’d ever seen in my life. Another woman had the Point Grey look of “I don’t work, I just workout” complete with a body entirely clad in Lululemon which hugged her like a green screen suit. I quickly turned away should either woman see me scrounging around in the poor drawer.

And yet, here were some nice frames in the back of the drawer. Albeit they were for children but since I am roughly the size of a nine-year-old boy, they worked for me. I found a very nice pair and walked up to the counter. The woman smiled and then frowned as there was no Fendi, Channel or Tom Ford to indicate what to charge me. I whispered, “They’re from the drawer.”

She nodded solemnly, thrilled she could be so discreet and I smiled limply, feeling shame somehow clinging to my aura as I made an appointment to pick them up the following week.

As I drove away, I thought of how much this neighborhood had changed since I was a child. Across the street from that optometrist was a hairdressing shop my mother used to go to when I was little. Her hairdresser’s name was Phillip. Not Phil. Phillip said with a real emphasis on the last p. No slang for him. My mother clearly loved this man who gave her some dignity every four weeks. The salon still exists though it’s lost it’s seventies fabulousness. I loved hanging out with her in that shop. None of the woman who went there wore giant diamonds or ever had designer clothing on. They were local women, women I’d seen at bake sales and in the basement of our church or answering friends’ doors. They were moms and grandmothers yakking and sharing stories. Point Grey was a community, not a real estate listing whose subtext was: please tear me down. Okay, maybe that’s going too far but it’s hard not to wonder what happened to Point Grey in the last 30 years and what it will look like in the next quarter century if we keep developing and tearing down our heritage at the rate we’re going. Point Greyers (my own name, let’s start a club?) who remember when underprivileged, over populated families could still live on West 11th and West 8th and West 13th on Crown and Trimble and Discovery and Wallace will know exactly what I’m talking about.

Something’s been lost and I’m not sure we’ll find it again except in our memories.

Dadvs2

West 11th, circa 1973. My dad and a long lost Vancouver.

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Filed under Non-fiction

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