Always Take Good Care Of Your Eyes (a public service announcement)

The Renaissance Festival had come to Tampa. My parents and sisters decided that it would be fun for all of us to go. I was going to pass this off, at first, because I thought it might be boring for me. Too visual. I pictured myself just standing around, while the rest of my family had a good time browsing the souvenir shops, taking pictures, and watching the shows. The family convinced me that it wasn’t going to be boring. They said that I might enjoy just being outside, in a different setting. “You still have all the sounds, and the smells.” mom reminded. I appreciate sounds and smells, and all, but I just don’t get all stoked about them, like blind people are supposed to. And why is it that, when people remind me that I could still enjoy the sounds and smells, they have to emphasize the two sensory names, in a story-time tone of voice? Like sounds and smells are whimsical and enchanted. 

I changed my mind, and decided to go. I thought, maybe it would be fun, for old time’s sake. We used to go to the Renaissance Festival in Largo, every year, when me and my sisters were little. It was an Easter weekend family tradition that we stuck with until me and my sisters were in our twenties. The last Renaissance we went to, was back in 2003. 

I used to love it, as a little kid, and as a teenager, because I had decent enough eyesight. I loved the costumes, and the silly mid evil themed comedy shows. Browsing through all the handcrafted jewelry and knick knacks and novelty gifts was lots of fun too. And so was buying things that I didn’t need, but I had to have, because they looked cool. The festival in Largo, used to always be held in this beautiful area that had lots of gigantic ancient oak trees. The trees really added to the atmosphere, and brought on a mid evil-time-period feeling. Then after the festival in 2003, all the beautiful oak trees were torn down, and replaced with a parking lot for a nearby library. Even in my twenties, when my eyesight went to shit, I remembered still having a good time. It had been sixteen years, and this was Christa’s last weekend with us, before she has to go back to Panama. Going to the Renaissance Festival meant a lot to her. For some reason—maybe it’s because of aging, or because she and I were total boozers, back then—Christa didn’t remember the festival of 03. My memory of it isn’t the clearest either. I remember that we had fun getting loaded off of beer, looking through zodiac necklaces, and getting into some naughty lip locking, with the Tortuga Twins. My eyesight has gotten a lot shittier since then, but I decided to think positively. As long as I had a drinking buddy, things should turn out great. 

My other sister, Gina, can’t drink like she used to, because she’s a mom. Her husband, Carlos, and their six-year-old son, Jaden, was coming with us too. This was going to be Jaden’s first Renaissance, which made it even more special. 

When we got to the festival, there were so many crowd rocking events going on. More than at the festival in Largo. There were tons of souvenirs to browse through, and they had some bad-ass shows. Like the Wheel of Death, which is a giant sentriffical force mechanism that this crazy guy does stunts on. In another show, this woman did some amazing acrobatic dancing, which also looked very dangerous. And of course, it wouldn’t be a Renaissance without a jousting show. My family had a blast. 

As for me, I wanted to kick my own ass, for not sticking with my decision to stay home. My source of amusement for the afternoon, was mostly listening to crowd noises, and smelling fried food, Swisher Sweets, and horse shit. WooW! What a rush! I also got to do a lot of standing around. Sometimes I walked. Oh, yeah, and there was this one part where I sat on the ground. Maybe that shook things up a little. The highlight of my day was eating 3,000 calories worth of festival food, and at least getting a nice beer buzz. I did pass off the thrilling opportunity to fondle some leather armor. Oh well, my loss. 

When dad asked if I enjoyed the Renaissance, as we were leaving, I was totally honest. I felt bad that he wasted his money on buying my ticket, and I wanted to pay him back for it. I had to also apologize for not having a good attitude about being happy about the senses I’m still blessed with. The simple pleasure of just being among different surroundings didn’t rock my world either. I really admire those blind people who can honestly get fulfillment out of experiencing the world through their other senses. It’s adorable how some of them could get all inspirational and spiritual about it too. To me, it’s like eating a small apple for dessert, and trying to get into imagining that I’m eating a double-chocolate cookie. I write books for young people, but I don’t think I’m good role model material. Especially not for young blind people. I’m sorry, but without eyesight, the world is boring as fuck. Longevity runs in both sides of my family. So I’m probably going to have to put up with this, for another fifty years. Yay. 

So my message to you is, remember to take good care of your eyes. They are more valuable than all the gold in the world. Eyes are put under more stress than ever, in this digital age. So take eye vitamins, religiously. Take eyedrops, after exposing your eyes to irritants, such as pollen, cigaret smoke, and badly polluted air. Always wear polarized sunglasses, when you go outside during the day. Even if the weather is cloudy. Get your eyes checked, at least once a year. There’s a creepy disease called glaucoma, that can sneak up on anybody’s eyes, no matter your race, gender, or gene pool. You don’t want to find out that you have glaucoma, when it’s too late, and irreversible damage has been done. Always wear a helmet while riding a motorcycle, or regular bike, or at any other outdoor activity that has a higher risk of head injury. A head injury might result in a detached retina, or damage to the visual cortex of the brain. 

While you’re taking good care of your eyes, cherish the privilege of having normal eyesight. Appreciate all the ugly sights in the world. Without them, you couldn’t appreciate all the beautiful ones. Indulge in taking too many pictures, or taking forever to browse through a store. Just because you can. Draw, paint, make silly faces, and make videos for Youtube. Learn a new dance move, fly a kite, study architecture, study computer graphics, study astronomy, forensics, cosmetology, plastic surgery, automechanics, microbiology, archaeology and meteorology, learn how to decorate cakes, get your pilot’s license, get your motorcycle license, go birding, do word searches, keep tabs on the moon’s phases, become a ship captain, get elaborate tattoos where you could admire them, play darts, do 800 piece puzzles, scuba dive, play carnival games, play board games, play all the sports in the world, see magic shows, do virtual reality sky diving, go to museums, Indulge in spending a little extra time fixing yourself up, in front of the mirror. NEVER pass off the opportunity to see a 3D movie, or a meteor shower, or famous  far away places. And be grateful that you can drive, as stressful as driving can be. 

The fully experienced world is such a spectacular place that I could only pine for. There were times I felt i could sell my soul to Satan, in exchange for a complete earthly life experience, in a normal physical body, with five normal senses. 

At least I can indulge into the constant flourish of stories that live on the inner world of my imagination. I have all of my normal senses in there, and no humbling limitations. I can do what I want, when I want, and go wherever I please. I don’t have to deal with having to settle for less, or having to accept what I can’t control. I’m in control of EVERYTHING there, like I’m freak’n God. Writing is my solace, and my blessing. Writing gives me a purpose that I actually like. It’s like my best friend, my child, my pet, my spouse, my job, and my lord and savior all rolled up into one. Best of all, for my situation, writing is time consuming, hee hee hee.       

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Bia Bella Baker🌋🌪🌊🌩Proud author of the HECCTROSSIPY series

Author of the HECCTROSSIPY Series

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