Friday, June 08, 2007

Jake's Eyes

Jake's eyes are this lovely sky blue, very Norwegian. Lovely on him, and strikingly gorgeous on our little blond girls... However, the color of his eyes isn't my concern here.

One of our dates the first year we were married was at the Pacific Science Center. It's one of those interactive science museuems, probably designed with children in mind. We had so much fun! One of the displays tested all sorts of things on your body- your strength, hand eye coordination, hearing... Jake got a big surprise on the color blind test- He'd always known that he had problems with red (in fact, there were times when he was little that he thought people were lying to him about things 'cuz he couldn't see the red as you and I do); however, he discovered that he couldn't see the red or the green... That was probably six years ago.

Well, he just had his annual optometrist appointment, and had a rather disturbing and nasty surprise... On the eight or nine color tests they do, he could only see one of the numbers. (You know the test I'm talking about? dots and dots of colors with a number in a different color hidden in the center?) He was pretty upset. Neither of us had noticed this progression, but now that we know, it explains some things. He's made some funny comments about my beads and color combinations, and now I know he sees the colors differently than I do. Also, some times he'll say something about a painting we're looking at or that I've done and I've wondered what he meant...

Do you realize how many things are very difficult for someone who is color blind? One of the silly stories from our first year is related to this pair of red socks Jake would wear every once in a while. I just figured he liked 'em, but then for this one very nice dress-up affair he put them on and I asked him if he was sure he wanted to wear red socks with his dress pants and shirt. He had no idea they were red. His mom had given them to him, and he had always thought they were grey... So, he pretty much dresses in blues, greys, and blacks. All his socks are white and black now (my contribution to the solution). And if there's an odd color combination going on when he starts to put on his shoes, I say something about it now! :)

Forget dressing yourself, there's way worse things to mix up. Remember, red and green are the colors he has problems with? In cities where they tilt the stop lights, he's got to know which way's the top and which way's the bottom... Yikes. That's not one you want to mess up! And sometimes when the light's hitting it right, he really can't see the arrow lights when they change.

The digital clock in our living room is red so Jake always wears his watch or he doesn't know the time. (which reminds me, I keep meaning to replace that one so that he can see it too...) We found an alarm clock with green lights for him. And the DVD player- almost all of the movies we've ever seen use a red light for the item the cursor is on. Jake has to have someone else use the remote on the DVD player 'cuz he can't tell whether it's on Play or Bonus Materials or Language. Very annoying for him. On simple displays he can make a good guess, but the complicated ones? The ones without a straightforward list? Forget it...

And at work- they put red stickers on the clearance items... You can imagine some of the problems that can create.

I wish I could see the world the way he does. Not all the time. Please! I'd miss my colors so much! But I'd really like to get an idea of the way the world looks to him.

I do know what it's like to be missing one color... I went to the same optometrist one week before him, and their test confirmed what I already knew. I'm missing the lavender number. I've known I had problems with lavender since high school. In 7th grade I had this lovely lavender sweater, one of my favorites, that my mom kept saying was grey. Beth and I would just humour her. "Okay, whatever mom. It's lavender, but if you want to call it grey, that's your right..." And it would make her so mad! The sweater got put away after a while, and then we went through my closet somewhere in there to give some clothes away, and lo and behold, that sweater was grey!! Except Beth still saw it as lavender. And then we knew. The ladies in our family lose lavender progressively as we grow older. Now Beth is losing it too, which frustrates her no end! An artist who can't paint with lavender... It annoys me, but as much as I enjoy painting, I'm not identified by it. I do avoid using lavender in my beading 'cuz I'm never sure if it looks okay with the other colors... And nobody in my house can tell me! :)

Anyway, I still like Jake's eyes, and I kind of like the fact that mine are green. But it's annoying to know that they're missing something. I've got this theory that the world looks different to every set of eyes that gaze upon it. For one thing, my two eyes don't even see color exactly the same. My right eye tends to see everything a little bit warmer/yellow than my left eye... If my two eyes don't even see the world the same, I have a hard time believing that Beth and I see it the same, or that Jake and Beth and I see it the same... Expand on that progression and you can understand why some art which completely depends on color doesn't work for everyone... The best example I can come up with right now is 'The Sixth Sense'. Jake didn't have a clue that Shamalan was using red as a signifier of death and the ghosts... He really saw that movie completely differently than I did. I loved how Shamalan used symbolism and color and was warning us of the ghosts even before we knew they were there, and Jake didn't see the warnings at all... He still liked the movie, but he was missing some of the art of it and some of the message...

Isn't vision amazing?? God is so cool. I wonder how different everything will look when we all get home... All new and beautiful and RIGHT and pure...

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