Sentimentality really isn’t my thing. There isn’t anything in particular that I keep near and dear to my heart. However, one object does come to mind that has been with me for most of my life. They have gone on to take on many forms, but have always been used for their specific purpose – to see.
Early on, I didn’t care much for my glasses, although others may have when pointing them out to me via calling me “four-eyes.” This was sometime in elementary school. I’d have them with me during lunch where they would most likely get messy from my sticky little fatty fingers. Even during recess, I was brave enough to keep them between my temples while playing touch football. My grandfather once gifted me those nerdy little strings that hold glasses in place to help take preventative measures in case of an accident. Careless kid me eventually decided against abuelito’s good intentions. Looking back on that now, I may very well put his idea into use by designing a fashionable, hipster line of what are formally called eyewear retainers.
Speaking of, I remember later on after high school when I saved enough money to put some pizazz into my next pair of frames. I embossed them with the letters “D” and “G,” which to me stood for “Dominican Gangsta.” This was the time when I really started to cherish my frames. Stepping out into the sunlight, it was now even fancy enough to shield me from the rays just as the commercial I saw for the Transitions lenses. Swagger on a hundred thousand trillion!
It sat comfortably on my nose, my first nose-pad-less frames. And although the temple of the glasses frame were hella thick and obstructed my damn peripheral vision, I’d feel elated with them on. They were a funky black and tortoise color, which would carry on to the next two pair of specs. Transitions and tortoise were now mandatory
A man who greatly inspired me, my Ray-Ban Clubmasters transformed me from, “look at me, I’m wearing designer frames,” to the reincarnation of Malcom X. I wanted to emulate him since he was one of the reasons for my conversion to Islam. My dreadlock-rocking, all-black-wearing, gauged-ears self became keen on saving the world. The tint created by the Transitions lenses were a lot more practical than the Star Trek-looking Dolce & Gabbanas, for this new pair could actually double as standalone sunglasses. Unfortunately, it hadn’t been too long thereafter when drunk me had dropped my Ray-Bans in the street outside my mom’s house, only to find them the next morning – irreparable.
Continuing on with the intellectual look, my third pair of black and tortoise frames were round, bold and, again, sporting the Transitions lenses. Feeling like an old college professor, I began to take life more seriously by wearing more bowties and buying myself a briefcase. These Polo frames helped me choose my career. I enrolled in college.
With time, all good things must come to an end. I had these bad boys for several years before the signs of wear and tear made them loose their edge. Long were the days of its sexy little body snugged up against my skin. Like a woman lying on a beach, her suntan lotion shimmering in the sunlight, so too did my specs shimmer under incandescent bulbs. The color had started to fade and there were cracks here and there. I was hurting. Literally hurting because of odd bends in the frame, which became quite uncomfortable after a long period of time of use. It was on to the next.
I took a job working for “the man.” The Malcom X-inspired activist many glasses ago would have been disappointed. My job was at a bank out of all places, home to the root of all evil. Luckily, I was able to wear a generic backup set of frames until I succumbed to a new, more “professional looking” pair of Ray-Ban’s. They were rectangular (I’d say square), semi-rimless and solid black. Their only sense of personality could be viewed from its owner where the inside part of the frame were blue in color. I opted out of the Transitions, for I felt that these frames were unworthy.
Fortunately for me, that last pair was “accidentally” (no, really) left behind from a trip to Morocco. Being that I now needed a dedicated pair of sunglasses, I hollered at my boy Ray-Ban again for a prescription pair of gold Aviator shades. My vacation was spent soaking in the sun. Thus, I had little use for that other unitasker, as Alton Brown would put it. Granted, they broke on me while I was there. I had sent them to a guy for repair, but I didn’t have time for that. My Aviators allowed me to read the Arabic signs that I couldn’t understand. Beat that!
Ironically, I later lost my sunglasses somewhere in Boston’s Chinatown while volunteering as an ELL tutor and had to resort to another unitasker: my naked eyes. I was glasses-less. Going commando didn’t feel too bad at first, but I found myself squinting and periodically getting headaches. I dug up the old grave of my Polo frames. It was like wearing dirty underwear on laundry day.
Today, it dons the name of Polo once again. Although completely unplanned, it does share two other things in common with the older specs. Upon seeing the frames, I fell in love at first sight. As an added bonus, they also happened to be in trend. These huge, square thangs (and not figuratively square like the rectangular ones) are black in color with regular old lenses – but that’s because “minimalist” is a thing now. It’s also because I’ve gotten used to owning a pair of sunglasses due to the uselessness of Transitions lenses inside of a car. Now I look like “Salt Bae” whenever I pull up to a panhandler and sprinkle some spare change into their cup.
Whether specs or shades, round or with edges, the feelings and memories that they accompanies is unquestionably dear to me. But now its off to start a hipster following for my trendy eyewear retainer line.